What did the England vs South Africa T20I series teach us?

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1. Bavuma flourishes as an opener

Bavuma has the potential to be an opener of substance in the shortest form of the game. He compliments Quinton de Kock’s explosive style perfectly, with less risky but equally important stroke play. This is crucial, allowing South Africa to build a strong base, for power hitters to launch from, in the latter overs. There is little doubt that their strong friendship, results in both knowing each other’s game inside out. Already, we have been privileged to see such efforts from the pair in test matches. Think back to Perth 2016. Think Hobart 2016. Think Wellington 2017. What do these games have in common? Superb counter-attacking partnerships when South Africa was under the cosh, without massive risk. If they managed to transfer such fluidity seen in these knocks into limited-overs, South Africa’s opening partnership has the class to prosper.

2. England are serious T20 World Cup contenders

The ultra-aggressive approach taken by England has the makings of delivering their second ICC trophy in the span of 18 months. They fell agonizingly short in Kolkata, in 2016 and Morgan’s men will want to rectify that. A formidable top order built around Roy and Bairstow makes them lethal against any bowling attack on their day. The tracks in Australia are likely to be good batting surfaces, as has been the case in recent ICC tournaments, aiding their power-hitting game. Their bowling, not quite as formidable as their batting, still possesses variety and skill. Jofra Archer, when he returns, coupled up with Mark Wood or Chris Jordan has the ability to bowl searing pace and yorkers at will. Add-in David Willey swinging the new ball, with the spin options of Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali and the set is almost complete. The only area they may falter at is finishing the innings with the bat, as seen in the first game. Their only proven finisher in Jos Buttler prefers to bat at the top of the order, where he has excelled of late.

3. Fitness comes first for South Africa

Lungi Ngidi was part of a three-week conditioning camp, in order to help his fitness. They say never judge a book by its cover, but Ngidi looks a lot leaner and meaner, having dropped ” four or five kilos” as he himself says. Despite conceding an excess of fifty runs in the third game, his returns throughout the series, with the ball in hand were impressive. A superb death bowling performance in the first T20I at Buffalo Park snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. 3 wickets in that game, followed by 3 more and 2 more, gave Ngidi a grand total of 8 wickets. He easily ended as the series’ highest wicket-taker, well ahead of Tom Curran’s 5. No matter what the format, the key to victory will always be to bowl the opposition out quickly. But especially in T20 cricket, where the capabilities of modern batsmen are sky-high, sending them for an early shower is a must. That the fitness camp has allowed Ngidi to regain some of his wicket-taking ability bodes well for South Africa, and the regime itself.

 

 

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