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SA v AUS: Port Elizabeth thriller offers vital lessons on T20 approach

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South Africa seemed dead and buried at one point but came back to register a 12-run win in the second T20I against Australia on the back of impressive death bowling and versatile approach.

Go hard in the powerplay, almost always

If both South Africa and Australia got one thing right in the 2nd T20I at the St George's Park, it was their approach in the powerplay. As always, it was South African skipper Quinton de Kock who blasted his way through the six-over mandatory powerplay. De Kock struck at almost 150 and was dismissed for a 47-ball 70. And, this was when he slowed down towards the last bit of his innings. The keeper-batsman took full advantage of the field restrictions, and despite his partner Reeza Hendricks not giving him much support, ensured that team was scoring at almost 10 RPO and ended with 59 runs in the powerplay, which played a major role in their victory ultimately.

Likewise, Australia on the back of the David Warner's blitz, collected 54 runs off the powerplay which put them ahead in the chase initially. It is to be noted that against the hard ball and with the field restrictions in place, it is relatively easier to cash in and score quick runs. Once the ball gets a bit soft and the fielders are patrolling the boundaries, if the fielding side is canny enough, they can block one side of the park and make it very difficult for the batting team to up the ante.

Think on toes

South African bowling great Makhaya Ntini shared an interesting tidbit with while on commentary during the match. He observed that before the beginning of the game, all South African pacers were practicing the yorker. However, when it came to game time, there was hardly any use of that delivery.

The Australian bowlers gauged around the ten-over mark that with the ball getting a bit soft, it was hard for the batsmen to hit the slower deliveries, especially those which are banged in on the half-way mark on the pitch. South Africa took a leaf out of the book of their opponents and succeeded immensely.

Each of Dwayne Pretorius, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada bowled almost half of their quota as slower balls and made it very difficult for the Aussie players to secure boundaries.

Don't drop the intensity, ever

At various points during the match, one team was ahead of the another by a big margin. South Africa were cruising along at 10 RPO to begin with but Australia pulled things back with quick dismissals of Reeza Hendricks and Faf du Plessis and did not allow South Africa to capitalise on the start that they got.

Likewise, Australia were almost home after the halfway mark and it seemed as if it would be an early finish but the South African bowlers did not lose hope. Tabraiz shamsi was extremely economical without picking up a wicket. Lungi Ngidi, Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje then ensured that the Aussie batsmen didn't get off the hook in the last part of the match.

The fielders too were on their toes and the intensity throughout the entire team was right up there. Had the shoulders drooped and the intensity dropped, South Africa might have lost the match somewhere around the 17th-18th over.

Try to finish early

A lot of admiration is attached to players who put a price on their wicket and are there at the crease to guide their team home. However, one such attempt by David Warner backfired in the Port Elizabeth game. Warner was off to a great start and was going at strike rate of 140 at one point.

However, he took it upon himself to remain at the crease and pinch quick singles and doubles. As wickets kept falling at the other end, he naturally slowed down and cut on his boundary options. While this may seem a decent ploy, it is not always the way to go in T20Is.

Had Warner kept going at the same tempo, it would probably have served Australia better. He ultimately ran out of partners and did not get enough strike towards the end which cost Australia the game.

The learning to take from the game then as a batsman is if you are set and hitting the ball well, keep going instead of getting too tactical about the game because more often than not, it is not the right thing to do in this format.

©Cricket World 2020