SA tighten nuts and bolts with another win

Times Media


TELFORD VICE, Cape Town

A scorebook entry of “JP Duminy c Miller b Abbott” would make sense if the Cobras were playing the Dolphins. But how about “F Behardien c Steyn b Rabada”, which would seem to involve the Titans, the Cobras and the Lions?

Both instances appeared in a scorebook on Tuesday, in a match played at the grand old Brabourne stadium in Mumbai.

They featured in SA’s World T20 warm-up game against a Mumbai Cricket Association XI (MCA), which counted Duminy, Behardien, David Wiese and Imran Tahir in their XV – yes, in their XV.

That afforded SA, who played as an XI, the opportunity to put all 15 members of their squad on the park in their last match practice before their tournament opener against England at the less grand, newer Wankhede stadium 1.5 kilometres away on Friday.

The MCA – and guests – posted 188/4 with Wiese’s unbeaten 34 off 19 balls standing out above Duminy’s 22 and Behardien’s six.

SA chased that down with eight wickets standing and three overs to spare. Faf du Plessis scored 65 and AB de Villiers clubbed his 52 not out off 23 balls.

But there will be concern that Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Chris Morris, Kyle Abbott and Aaron Phangiso couldn’t find a way to remove opener Akhil Herwadkar, a 21-year-old left-hander 19 caps into his first-class career who has yet to play for the senior Indian team in any format, until he had scored 61. It was left to Rilee Rossouw and his occasional off-spin to dismiss Herwadkar in the 13th over.

Worse yet, Rabada, Abbott, Wiese, Tahir and Duminy all went for a dozen or more runs an over.

Not that too much can be read into all this. Yesterday’s match, like Saturday’s four-run over win over India at Wankhede in another warm-up, was about SA’s players tightening the last nuts and bolts before the tournament proper gets going.

That and reacquainting themselves with the conditions to remember what worked for they when they won T20 and one-day series in India in October.

“It was a big help for us,” Tahir said on Monday about last year’s matches. “We played here so we know the conditions a little bit better.

“We were quite lucky the tour went well and we won, so that’s obviously given us confidence we will bring into the World Cup.”

Tahir also made the point that, “We have been playing good T20 cricket; we have won eight out of 12 games.”

In fact, SA have won nine of their last dozen completed matches in the format. But, in T20 cricket, a little understatement goes a long way.

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