Ireland vs South Africa 3rd ODI Preview: With unassailable lead, Ireland eye a piece of history
South Africa captain Temba Bavuma said after their maiden loss to Ireland in ODIs that the visitors had not taken Balbirnie & Co lightly.
But, when you rest your highest run scorer in the last series Quinton de Kock for two successive matches and bench Lungi Ngidi, your most economical bowler in the series opener, what other signs are you sending?
Ireland's maiden ODI win against South Africa
It was a red letter day in the history of Ireland cricket as they beat South Africa for the first ever time in ODI cricket in 7 attempts. The team had earlier lost one match in South Africa and 3 in neutral venues.
There were many stars in the Irish victory, as you would expect, for Ireland to cause such a big upset. But, the biggest of them was captain Andrew Balbirnie who was awarded the Player of the Match for his 102 off 117 balls with 10 fours and 2 sixes at a strike rate of 87.17, which set up the Ireland innings almost perfectly.
Ireland eye historic series win
Ireland captain and Player of the Match Andrew Balbirnie was understandably chuffed after the team's win. The team is now eyeing a series win.
"We were put in on a greenish wicket, and they had good bowlers. The way our guys bowled at the death and the middle was amazing. It was a win that we really needed. I thought we outfielded them today, which made the difference. Tector's freedom while batting was a match-winning. We'll enjoy this - it's the first time we have beaten them and it's a huge day for Ireland. We will have a few beers, it's not everyday that you beat a team of this stature.
"We have another target in mind, that is to win the series on Friday. I didn't want to disturb the middle order that much, and McBrine's 30 and his bowling was exceptional today, and I just couldn't be prouder of this group. Facing players of the calibre of Rabada and co. and coming out with a decent score, that's why you play international cricket. We're pushing hard to get maximum League points this series," the captain concluded.
Tector and Dockrell give it a good whack
Paul Stirling and Andy McBrine also made crucial contributions of 27 and 30 respectively. But, the game-changing knock came from Harry Tector at number 4. Tector smashed 79 off 68 deliveries with 6 boundaries and 4 sixes, batting at a strike rate of 116.17 which is no mean feat against the calibre of the Proteas attack.
George Dockrell's 23-ball 45 was equally important as Ireland posted 290 runs on the board.
Malan and van der Dussen need support
Andile Phehlukwayo was the top wicket taker for South Africa but was their most expensive bowler as well, finishing with figures of 2/73 from his full quota. Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi were very economical and picked up one wicket each. Back in the XI, Anrich Nortje created a lot of chances which went to ground. As a result, he ended up with unimpressive figures of 10-0-64-0.
South Africa had a good partnership between Janneman Malan and Rassie van der Dussen. If they had one or two more such partnerships, they would have chased down the total.
Malan made 84 off 96 balls. The opener struck 7 boundaries and 4 sixes. Van der dussen made 49 off 70 balls but South Africa's middle and lower order collapsed. Mark Adair, Joshua Little and Andy McBrine picked up two wickets each.
Quinton de Kock set to be back
While Ireland are expected to remain unchanged, South Africa have put themselves in a spot. They will have to bring Quinton de Kock back, but with Malan having ended up as their top scorer in the last match and Aiden Markram having done brilliantly in the recent past, how do they make room for de Kock?
A way out for the South African management will be to drop Kyle Verreynne and push one of the openers to one drop.
Given their team combination, only one of Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi can play.
Here's a look at the probable playing XIs:
Ireland - Andrew Balbirnie (c), Paul Stirling, Andy McBrine, Harry Tector, George Dockrell, Curtis Campher, Lorcan Tucker (wk), Simi Singh, Mark Adair, Craig Young, Joshua Little
South Africa - Quinton de Kock (wk), Aiden Markram, Janneman Malan, Temba Bavuma (c), Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Tabraiz Shamsi
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