Resurgent Proteas show renewed competency against spin: 'It's been a process of more than a year'

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Rassie van der Dussen (Gallo)
Rassie van der Dussen (Gallo)

The Proteas are 1-0 up in their three-match ODI series against India after Wednesday's convincing win in Paarl and they have momentum firmly on their side heading into Friday's clash at the same venue. 

The 31-run triumph came off the back of a stunning 2-1 Test series win against the Indians that was completed at Newlands last week, and all of a sudden there is a renewed sense of excitement accompanying the South Africans. 

It has been a tough few years for Proteas cricket, with results on the field and administrative strife in the boardrooms all contributing to a product that left many passionate fans frustrated with the sport they love. 

Now, for the first time in what seems an age, the Proteas look to be in a good space and, from the outside looking in, it seems a happy dressing room at present. 

That much was confirmed by Wednesday's man-of-the-match Rassie van der Dussen, whose knock of 129* (96) was nothing short of sublime. Van der Dussen put on 204 runs with skipper Temba Bavuma (110) for the fourth wicket, and that was ultimately where South Africa won the game. 

The wicket at Boland Park has been historically slow and that proved to be the case in the 1st ODI, yet Bavuma and Van der Dussen expertly manipulated the Indian bowlers to all corners of the ground to post 296/4 from their allotted overs. 

So often viewed as a side that struggles against spin bowling, Van der Dussen and the South Africans were more than comfortable against the Indian duo of Ravichandran Ashwin (1/53 in 10) and Yuzvendra Chahal (0/53 in 10). 

READ HERE | Rassie van der Dussen's astonishing ODI batting average: 'I don't pay much attention to it'

Van der Dussen, in particular, hit the ground running against the spin, and he believes that is an area where the Proteas batting unit has improved immensely in recent times. 

"The conditions in Paarl generally suit the spinners and slow bowlers. There is generally not a lot of pace in the wicket," said Van der Dussen.

"We have upskilled ourselves and worked on those game plans against the spin, starting from the T20 series against the West Indies last year where there were slow wickets.

"We obviously knew that spin would play a big role at the T20 World Cup, so it's been a process of more than a year of upskilling our batters against spin and making sure that it's a part of the game where we can dominate if we play well on the day.

"In the past, maybe South African batters were known to dominate the seamers and come up a bit short against the spinners, and I think we identified that as a weakness a year or two ago."

Van der Dussen said head coach Mark Boucher and current batting coach Justin Sammons deserved special praise for South Africa's new outlook to spin bowling. 

"They have given us those tools that we can apply out there in the middle," he said.

"I think we've come a long way in how we approach spin and think about spin ... it's pleasing to see."

The second ODI takes place in Paarl on Friday. 

Play will start at 10:30.

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