South Africa vs Netherlands: The Proteas batting conundrum and the Dutch uncertainty

Alshaar Khan

Inspired by Dale Steyn, South Africa would now expect to seek match-winning performances from their star batsmen too.

After creating history by staging a stunning chase against Ireland, Netherlands set another record by finishing with the lowest total in T20 internationals against Sri Lanka on Monday at Chittagong. From ruthlessly exquisite to plain rubbish.

“Maybe we got a bit carried away, anyone can get out early but it was the way we were getting out that was poor”, accepted the Dutch skipper Peter Borren following their embarrassing loss. It was a lesson in cricket for the European minnows who must learn to respect the opposition a little bit more than they did in their first Super 10 match. Although T20 cricket, for many, is bludgeoning everything right from the word go, but a certain level of skill and temperament has to be involved as well.

Having said that, Netherlands have come into the tournament simply as a two-edged sword. Some days will be as ugly as this one, on the others they could make pigs fly.

As far as South Africa are concerned, Dale Steyn rescued them from a second consecutive loss in the tournament which would have virtually ousted them from the competition. In spite of having immense talent in the ranks and scoring 170 in their last game, the Proteas batting order has still appeared somewhat out of sorts. As a result, several questions were voiced by the critics.

Is Amla too slow a player to open the innings and/or AB wasted in the middle order? The team management thinks that De Villiers is best suited for Number 4. So what else is it that they should change? Do they need to rethink the role of someone like David Miller?

In South Africa’s opening match against Sri Lanka, Amla was the only South Arican with a strike-rate under 100. In the second game against New Zealand, they had only two batsmen who scored more than 20. Amla was one, JP Duminy the other and Amla’s strike-rate of 102.50 was little over half Duminy’s 200.

But it doesn’t seem to be an alarm bell for Amla because that is the role South Africa want him to serve. He certainly provides stability, in lieu of the quick loss of his opening partner as witnessed in the tournament so far. Also, he admits to be learning to adapt to the swashbuckling style of batting in the shortest version of the game. “I haven’t played a lot of international T20 games,” he said. “I haven’t quite got the experience so I almost feel every game is a learning experience for me.”

Next, the top-scorer of the Ram Slam’s latest edition, David Miller has done injustice to his obvious potential. Batting at six in the national lineup, Miller is most often than not expected to go big without many sighters. Such is the nature of the game. It may be too much too soon for him, but it is this sort of an opportunity that he could build his career upon in the coming years.

With Netherlands as the opposition, the Safers could give a little shuffle to their batting order. Else if they opt to do with the same sequence, De Villiers and Miller would expect the likes of Amla and JP Duminy to construct a solid foundation for them to explode.

This match could very well serve as a launch pad for the Proteas batting lineup that has failed to live up to its reputation as a unit in the World T20.


South Africa: Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wk), AB de Villiers, Jean-Paul Duminy, Beuran Hendricks, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

Netherlands: Peter Borren (c), Wesley Barresi (wk), Mudassar Bukhari, Ben Cooper, Tom Cooper, Tom Heggelman, Ahsan Malik, Vivian Kingma, Stephan Myburgh, Michael Rippon, Pieter Seelaar, Michael Swart, Eric Szwarczynski, Logan van Beek, Timm van der Gugten.

Venue: Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, Chittagong

Date: 27th March 2014

Start time: 3:00 PM IST

Originally published on here

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