Bavuma hails 'thriving' Magala as fitness questions fade: 'Positioning himself as match-winner'

Sisanda Magala. (Photo by Christiaan Kotze/Gallo Images)
Sisanda Magala. (Photo by Christiaan Kotze/Gallo Images)

At Willowmoore Park

  • Sisanda Magala is steadily becoming a match-winner for the Proteas.
  • Proteas skipper Temba Bavuma lauded the seamer for grabbing his opportunities after putting his previous fitness issues behind him.
  • The national setup are excited for the value Magala's IPL gig can have for his own game, but he also faces a few challenges adapting to that environment. 

A few months after he turned the first ODI against England in Bloemfontein on its head, Sisanda Magala gained the Proteas the foothold they needed to eventually dispose of the Netherlands comfortably in the 2nd ODI here in Benoni on Friday evening.

In doing so, the burly seamer is rapidly a key part of Rob Walter's new white-ball team setup, the mercurial wizard capable of weaving his magic in an instant.

Under pressure to hit the ground running in a must-win encounter for automatic qualification for the World Cup in India later this year, South Africa had been frustrated by the Dutch openers, who made 58 in the first 11 overs.

Magala himself had produced a wayward opening over, but returned to strike twice in his next two overs, notably deceiving settled opener Vikram Singh with a shorter delivery that climbed steeply.

Later on he induced an edge from innings mainstay Teja Nidamanuru (47) to finish with career-best figures of 3/37 and the Man of the Match award.

"Sisanda is also positioning himself as one of the match-winners in this team, specifically with the ball," an audibly chuffed skipper Temba Bavuma said afterwards.

"Today he picked up those wickets at vital moments that gave us momentum and we ran with it."

Magala's run of success, which not only includes his steady international rise but also an IPL contract with Chennai Super Kings, has been so prominent that the question marks over his fitness are now but a distant memory.

READ | Bavuma and bowlers spearhead clever and clinical Proteas' big victory over Dutch in Benoni

"There's probably also a lot of relief from a lot of people and himself around the opportunities that he's now being afforded," said Bavuma.

"There's no more outside noise, it's now just about matters related to the cricket he's playing on the field. He's thriving. A lot of things have happened for him and a lot more will in the coming months."

Indeed, the opportunity for Magala to rub shoulders with the world's best at the game's biggest franchise T20 tournament is one that excites Bavuma, particularly in light of the value it could have in future.  

"For our sake, as a team, we want him to learn and grow in India, to keep producing these performances. Come later in the year - and that's not to say he's guaranteed a spot in a World Cup squad - those lessons will help him put up those performances," said the Proteas captain.

"It's a fantastic opportunity. He'll be in a different environment and experience different challenges. It's all to improve his craft because he's still quite new and fresh to international level, so he needs all the experience he can get."

However, Magala also didn't waste much time admitting that the prospect of joining up with CSK is one that has him "nervous".

The 32-year-old is known for being a man who enjoys home comforts, but will have to find a way to adapt to the life of a roaming player on the T20 circuit if he wants to cut it at the highest level.

"I've been to India and it can be a tough place to tour. You want to use your time wisely. If you get an opportunity to play, go out and back your game. Enjoy it. If you don't get game-time, still ensure that you do your work and come back fitter and stronger," said Bavuma in providing encouragement. 

"He does get homesick quite quickly, but if he wants to be a regular international, he'll have to get over that."

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