Jonathan Raymond | November 7, 2013
Osman Samiuddin wrote approvingly for us today of South Africa’s impressive, comprehensive innings yesterday in securing an ODI victory against Pakistan.
As he noted, lost in the fever of Rohit Sharma double tons and talk of 350-run chases was the fact that a collected, professional side such as South Africa are still perfectly capable of stringing together a merely solid run total – one that won’t make your eyes pop out – and defending it.
“…it is not as if those ODIs have gone anywhere. They are right here still. There was one at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium last night, in fact, where, once South Africa had worked their way to 259, you sensed immediately the total was a good, decent and honest one. A fair one even.
It has been easy in recent weeks to get carried away with thoughts of a new age of ODI batting, propelled by a breed of young, impossibly aggressive batsmen from India and Australia, all honed in the relentless frenzy of the IPL.
But the evidence for it is flimsy. The boundaries, sixes and runs in the India-Australia ODI series were a chemical high, induced by wickets found only in batting heaven, moderately sized boundaries and, crucially, two pretty weak bowling attacks. …
Last night’s surface in Abu Dhabi was a far fairer one and probably more representative as a whole, of ODI surfaces around the world, except sometimes in India. There was reward for shots of conviction, down the ground and square. There was enough for bowlers of all kinds as well: turn for spinners, bounce for all, some swing and occasionally some grip.
South Africa’s total was built on wholly organic and sweaty virtues. Five of their top six got to at least 34. Both Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis got fair purchase for their strokes. In particular Du Plessis caught the eye, under pressure at one down, but capable of defying it. As Ahmed Shehzad all too briefly demonstrated later in the evening, good cricket shots brought reward.
But the real engine of South Africa’s total was the stand between JP Duminy and AB de Villiers. That traversed the middle overs in which, despite the same fielding restrictions that applied in India and were criticised for further neutering bowlers, they put on an unfashionably measly 70.
Boundaries were hard to come by; the pair managed only five between them. But the running was sharp, the effect that of multitudinous paper cuts to the hold Pakistan’s spinners were threatening to apply.”
Indeed, somewhat forgotten in the wake of the heady totals the likes of India and Australia have seemingly made routine is that death-by-1,000-papercuts can still be a winning one-day strategy on most wickets.
Take a listen to what AB de Villiers, who batted for 34, and Faf du Plessis, for 55, had to say following the match yesterday and what they have to say ahead of Friday’s rematch.