Magala shakes off the nerves, keeps it simple and spearheads superb Proteas comeback

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Sisanda Magala is mobbed. (Photo by Marco Longari / AFP)
Sisanda Magala is mobbed. (Photo by Marco Longari / AFP)
In Bloemfontein
  • Sisanda Magala admitted he was nervous when given the ball so late in the first ODI against England but showed his maturity by adapting brilliantly.
  • The 32-year-old Man of the Match said even though the currency for the Proteas was wickets, he kept his approach simple.
  • Magala is more than happy to fulfil numerous bowling roles despite being best known as a new-ball striker. 

Sisanda Magala's first over in ODIs - against India in Paarl last year - was a nervy, wayward affair that saw him concede 6 wides and 15 runs overall.

So when the burly Proteas seamer was thrown the ball in the 18th over of an English reply that was motoring along at 123 without loss, it wouldn't have been surprising if the 32-year-old Lions talisman would've had a few bad memories flooding back.

Yet he went to his mark, acknowledged he was nervous, took a breath and got on with the business of being South Africa's fourth change bowler, an unusual responsibility for a man known for taking the ball.

Magala conceded three runs in his first over and then proceeded to produce an excellent spell of 3/46 that went a long way towards the Proteas launching a stirring comeback win by 27 runs at the Mangaung Oval. 

"I was a little bit nervous, I won't lie, considering how England were going at that stage and the brand of cricket they play," he said following his Man of the Match performance.

"I was also excited. It was really about just letting that first ball go. We were lucky not to have allowed them big partnerships after the opening stand. We got wickets at regular intervals, and that gave us momentum and belief that we could win.

"The currency was wickets."

READ | Proteas quicks spark dramatic win as England collapse in 1st ODI

While the hosts were indeed never going to restrict the current world champions after a flying start spearheaded by Jason Roy, who made 113, the quest for never blinded Magala to the value of simply being pragmatic.

"Yes, it really was just about keeping it simple, especially coming from T20s [in the SA20] where you have to use a range of variations almost immediately," he said.

"Here it was just about going back to basics, which allowed us to get breakthroughs and stunted the English batters".

Naturally, Magala was elated about his recognition after proceedings.

"At the end of the day, I just want to contribute as much as I can towards the team winning. If I played a hand in my team winning, I'm more than happy. It's pointless getting runs and wickets if you still lose. You need to get over the line."

Did he start becoming a bit anxious as skipper Temba Bavuma kept employing other members of the attack as he gradually saw his shiny new ball getting worn down?

"It's part of the game. As players, we're expected to be able to adapt, be flexible on the fly with your approach," said Magala.

"One of the worst things that can actually happen to a team and its players is having a fixed plan and sticking to it too rigidly. Teams can plan a bit better then. 

"It worked well for us. Maybe it won't be the same plan on Sunday. We go according to conditions and match situations. It's about having to be ready."

Sunday's second ODI in Bloemfontein starts at 10:00.

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