SA and Pakistan seek answers in one-day games
Adaptable Highveld Lions batsman Rassie van der Dussen is a contender to fill AB de Villiers-sized void
Saturday’s first of five ODIs between SA and Pakistan will be more than just about the results — how the teams sort out their teething problems will be vital.
SA’s problems can at times move from a minor pain to a major headache, which now is the filling of the AB de Villiers-sized void left by the star batsman when he retired in 2018.
Adaptable Highveld Lions batsman Rassie van der Dussen is the next one off the conveyor belt in a attempt to find the near-perfect batsman who can not only absorb early pressure‚ but bat long and deep enough to ensure the very same pressure is transferred to the bowling team while avoiding the middleovers lull that has become the difference in ODIs in the past two years.
England‚ particularly‚ have shown that calculated and sustained aggression throughout the innings lays the platform for bowlers to attack for long periods while defending high totals.
England though have the benefit of Eoin Morgan and Joe Root to catalyse their middleover sessions when teams try to rifle through their overs.
De Villiers did this well but on his own and this is where the likes of Reeza Hendricks‚ Faf du Plessis and Van der Dussen have to spearhead SA’s batting effort.
Pakistan have a similar headache‚ despite not having to contend with the spicy Test pitches on which they battled.
Babar Azam is their best multifaceted batsman while Mohammad Hafeez is expected to add the missing bit of top-order solidity that was sorely missing in the Test series.
While there is clarity in terms of the roles for Azam‚ Hafeez‚ Shoaib Malik and the combustible Fakhar Zaman‚ question marks still remain on how Pakistan’s middle-order functions best and who bats where.
Late-order acceleration has furthermore been a problem for Mickey Arthur’s side and how they will achieve that against SA’s good bowling unit remains to be seen.
However‚ five matches (10 in SA’s case with the Sri Lanka series to come in March)‚ provide the perfect stage for questions to be answered.
One of those is SA’s ability to deal with quality spin.
After 2018’s batting debacle against India‚ there has to be tangible improvement that will inspire confidence.
It was an inexperienced batting line-up that Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal took care of but with both Hashim Amla and Du Plessis in reasonable form after the Test series‚ the onus will be on this senior duo as well as David Miller to lead the way should spin be a focal point in this series.
Quinton de Kock and Dale Steyn have been rested for the two coastal ODIs and have been replaced by Aiden Markram and Duanne Olivier.
The show in preparation for the World Cup will move from Port Elizabeth on Saturday to Durban on Tuesday.