After being outplayed at Mohali, the new-look South African T20 team made a tremendous comeback in the final game of the three-match series when the thrashed the much-fancied hosts by nine wickets In Bengaluru on Sunday. The victory was as one-sided as the final margin suggested and it is considered to be a tremendous achievement for the new leadership team of the Proteas – interim Team Director Enoch Nkwe and interim captain Quinton de Kock and the rest of the players and technical staff.
What was particularly impressive was the fact that Nkwe, De Kock and company have shown themselves to be quick learners. It was to be seen not only in the skills of the bowlers but also the manner in which De Kock deployed them.
At Mohali, while defending 150, the first-time skipper de Kock made a tactical blinder by holding back Kagiso Rabada till the very last over. As a result, South Africa’s best bowler ended up bowling just three overs on that evening. However, on Sunday the Protea management came up with much better gameplan.
De Kock used five different bowlers in the six-over power play and one-over spells became the rule rather than the exception throughout the innings after India had won the toss and batted first.
Left-armer Beuran Hendricks set the standard on his return to spearhead a superb bowling performance with the new ball that saw India losing Rohit Sharma early in the innings. Hendricks came into the side in place of Anrich Nortje and bowled a superb two-over opening spell of 1/7 with 8 dot balls in the power play and went on to finish with 2/14 in 4 which almost matched his career best 4/14 against Pakistan earlier this year.
Rabada started with three wide deliveries that cost 7 runs to go for 17 runs in his first over but recovered well to respond with 3/22 from his remaining three overs.
Furthermore, from South Africa’s point of view, the performance of the two spinners were particularly pleasing. Left-am wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi, after being hit for sixes off his first two deliveries, coming back strongly to take 1/23 in 4 with 12 dot balls. Whereas Bjorn Fortuin in his second match finished with 2/19 from three. At M Chinnaswamy Stadium, where the boundaries are quite small, these are considered as superb bowling figures, especially for spinners.
Overall, thanks to the well-though out bowling plan, the visitors restricted India to a below-par 134/9. And then in the chase, de Kock never provided the inexperienced bowling attack any chance whatsoever. His unbeaten 79 off 52 balls (5 sixes and 6 fours) gave him a series aggregate of 131 runs for once out with a strike rate of 148.86. Following his poor show in the World Cup with bat in hand, de Kock must feel a sigh of relief.
During his innings of on Sunday, the Protea captain also chalked up his 1,000th run in T20I cricket.
Temba Bavuma was another to show how he has grown in confidence and adapted his game plan to the shortest format with his supporting act of 27 (23 balls, two fours and a six). It must have given him cause for enormous satisfaction as he finished the match with his six.
Beuran Hendricks was named Man of the Match and De Kock Man of the Series.
The Proteas now move on to the three-match Test series starting on October 2 in confident mood following their move up to No. 3 in the ICC T20I standings.