South Africa have been going all guns blazing this World Twenty20. They’ve played two matches and scored 200+ in both and no other team makes as many 200+ scores in the shortest format of cricket as they do. The numbers suggest that it is the case with South Africa enjoying a run rate of 10.64 in the first six overs this year – the best for any team. (STATS || POINTS TABLE || FIXTURES)
On the flipside, the Proteas aren’t doing too well when bowling during the powerplay overs. In the last five T20Is, three at home against England and two during the World Twenty20, South Africa have conceded 309 runs in the first six overs at an average of 61.8. It started off with 69 runs in the first T20I at Kingsmead, a lesser 36 runs at Johannersburg in the second T20I and 51 runs in the final T20I at Cape Town. In India for World Twenty20, South Africa bowlers began depressingly by being hit all over the park early for 89 runs against England. In the end, Eoin Morgan’s men successfully chase down South Africa 228.
In the latest encounter, Mohammad Shahzad handed a beating to Kagiso Rabada and Kyle Abbott to propel Afghanistan to 64 runs from 6 overs early on. Had it not been for Shahzad departing in the fourth over at 44 from 19 balls, the score would have been definitely higher.
Even during the warm-up games preceding the tournament, against India and Mumbai Cricket Association, South Africa let flow 47 runs and 63 runs respectively.
Against Afghanistan, South Africa’s woes early on became apparent and they could only breathe a bit due to their 209 runs even though captain Faf du Plessis admitted they were “a bit worried”.
In the T20 format, the spinners help you get the wickets – that in effect brings the run rate down. As Harsha Bhogle stated in his column for The Indian Express, it is the slow and steady that win the race ahead of the fast and the furious. But Faf resisted the urge even though he later said the idea had come to him. Should he fight this urge the next time? Especially against West Indies who they face on Friday?
Both Rabada and Abbott were guilty of bowling too full or keeping it too short for Shahzad to relax his arms with ease. Despite noticing how their teammates were being taken to the cleaners, the South African pacers stuck to their bowling plan without going for ‘Plan B’ through slower deliveries or cutters. However, they did engage in clever bowling with variance in the second half of Afghanistan’s inning that brought the demise.
South Africa will not have the luxury of JP Duminy amongst their ranks against West Indies with the all-rounder ruled out due to a hamstring strain. In his absence, West Indies need a spin outlet on a Nagpur pitch that is bound to turn – something South Africa have first hand knowledge of.
With a bit of a gap since their last match on Sunday, South Africa would have hoped to have ironed out this weak link and added a spinner to their ranks to take on West Indies.