Unlikely Proteas batting hero reflects on top order calamity: 'We need to address new ball'

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Keshav Maharaj (Getty)
Keshav Maharaj (Getty)
  • The Proteas top order crumbled dismally in the first T20 against India on Wednesday. 
  • Keshav Maharaj, who top-scored for his side, believes adjustments need to be made to how the new ball is approached. 
  • South Africa were 9/5 at one stage, with four ducks in their top six.

Proteas spinner Keshav Maharaj has always been handy with the bat, but on Wednesday in Thiruvananthapuram, he was much more than that. 

It didn't impact the result - India cruised to an eight-wicket victory and a 1-0 lead in the three-match series - but Maharaj's 41 (35) was the difference between a disappointing day for South Africa and what could have been one of the most humiliating moments in the country's cricketing history. 

Batting first after losing the toss, the Proteas were reduced to 9/5 with their top order decimated by a swing bowling exhibition from Deepak Chahar and Arshdeep Singh. 

There was resistance from Aiden Markram (25) and Wayne Parnell (24) after that, but it was Maharaj who moved the Proteas beyond their lowest ever T20 total of 87 and towards three figures. 

Temba Bavuma was out for 0, Quinton de Kock for 1 while all of Rille Rossouw, David Miller and Tristan Stubbs were out for first ball ducks. 

Speaking after the match, Maharaj acknowledged the need to revisit plans around how to face the new ball when it is swinging like it was on Wednesday.

"I don't think we want to dwell too much on what has transpired, but it is something that we can address going forward and hopefully we can rectify that," he said. 

"When you're put under pressure early on, it's very difficult to come back, but the boys showed a bit of fight and character and I think we can build from that. To come back and get 106 and sort of make a game of it, I think we can take a lot of positives from that.

"But I think something we need to address is the new ball and the way we're playing it. There is a lot of swing, so maybe it's adjusting our plans and mindset and building from there."

Maharaj added that while the wicket was difficult to bat on - he pointed to variable bounce at times - the Proteas batters could have been better at dealing with the conditions. 

"I just think the application we showed up front, maybe we need to reassess that and find ways to combat the swing," he said. 

"The ball did swing prodigiously in the first couple of overs.

"If you go five down in the powerplay, it's very difficult to come back from there. Maybe it was a bit of rustiness by the boys, but hopefully we can come back a lot better and make the second T20 a lot more exciting."

The second T20 takes place in Guwahati on Sunday and also starts at 15:30 (SA time).

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