Ind against SA 2022 5e T20I

South Africa have started their preparations for this year’s T20 World Cup in India with 11 wins in their last 12 matches. They extended that to 13 of 14 before losing two in a row, while still having several questions about the team’s combination and strategy. After a 2-2 draw, here’s what they need to think about:

There is no doubt that he is a shrewd captain and an articulate speaker, but none of these things are what is needed from an opening hitter in T20 cricket. This is all about numbers – and in particular strike rates. Bavuma is 120.60 in T20Is, which since June 2021 has fallen further to 115.94 – the lowest among openers of the top six teams from the previous T20 World Cup. Moreover, if Quinton de Kock does not fire, this strike rate could become a handicap for South Africa.

Bavuma is not the biggest hitter but in this series he was also kept quiet by Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s exceptional skill which limited his ability to swing the shot. Coach Mark Boucher acknowledged the problem: “Bhuvi was exceptional. He put us under pressure in the Powerplays. It’s an area where India dominated us, and it’s something we will definitely look into. and try to improve”.

But how? On this tour, they responded to slow starts by promoting Dwaine Pretorius to a breakthrough role at No. 3, which worked once in four matches and is unlikely to be a long-term solution. Perhaps there’s an argument to bring Bavuma down in order – easier said than done, read on to find out why – or to ask him to use the retirees we saw in this format lately.

Either way, a quick survey of other openers – David Warner, Jason Roy, Martin Guptill and Rohit Sharma – indicates that hitting around 140 is more acceptable, and Bavuma needs to get up to make sure the South Africa moves to a more aggressive opening. game passages.

Who is in the middle order?

It is likely that South Africa can only place three, or in the blink of an eye, four of those five players in numbers 3 to 6 or 7 in the batting order, and it may be difficult to get them. decide. Markram offers a part-time bowling option, Klaasen can guard the wicket if he needs to, and van der Dussen and Miller have experience on their side.

If the latter of these dominates it may mean Stubbs is out for the time being, but his form in the most recent domestic competitions suggests South Africa should give him an opportunity sooner rather than later. A problem with abundance in the middle order is that selectors don’t mind having. Moreover, the problem of openers is much bigger than that.

Seven hitters or two allrounders?

On proof of the XI chosen for the last match, South Africa cannot have both. They played the combination of Pretorius and Wayne Parnell—whom Marco Jansen replaced in Game 4—and six specialty hitters in the first three games, but had to leave Jansen out in the fifth to play the seventh batter.

Along with two allrounders, they also created room for two specialty spinners, giving them six bowling options; but the stick seemed a little light. With seven batters – allrounder included – they only have five bowling options and room for a single specialty spinner, which may be limited unless the allrounder is also a spinner. And that’s what they wanted from the start.

“We wanted to play six hitters with Aiden as the sixth bowling option, but we couldn’t do it,” Boucher said, further opening the door for Markram’s immediate return.

It is likely that under Australian conditions – where the T20 World Cup will be held in four months – South Africa will revert to a specialist spinner and three rapids. Their choice will therefore be mainly between seven hitters or six and an all-rounder, with Markram also bowling.

Ngidi had not played T20I for nearly a year prior to this series, while Nortje had not played any international cricket format for over six months. They have both made a comeback, and from the early evidence there is a case to be made for Ngidi’s inclusion over Nortje if South Africa were to pick just one.

Ngidi was benched for the entire IPL but has spent time working on his conditioning and skills, and looks leaner and fitter than at any point in his career while looking healthier. control of his art. He can still reach over 140 km/h, and has also developed a well-disguised slower ball and his changes have brought wickets, especially in the final game.

Nortje, who has returned to full fitness after a lingering hip and back injury in the IPL, was more temperamental, sometimes struggling to find his lengths. By his own admission, he’s not quite where he was before the injury and wants more time to cast longer spells and find his rhythm.

That will come in the coming months, with a full England tour looming, and his progress could set up an intriguing contest with Ngidi and possibly even Jansen in South Africa’s XIs at the T20 World Cup.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s correspondent in South Africa

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