London — South Africa were so poor against Bangladesh at The Oval on Sunday that it is difficult to find any positives, but one that stood out was the bowling performance of Andile Phehlukwayo .
While the Bangladesh batters were sending the Proteas attack to all corners of the ground, Phehlukwayo produced another mature display that suggests he will be a key player for his country over the next few must-win World Cup fixtures.
By the time they were done, Bangladesh had posted 330/6 to record their highest ever score in ODI cricket.
They would go on to win the match by 21 runs, leaving South Africa red-faced and in danger of missing out on the tournament semi-finals.
With Chris Morris included at the expense of Dwaine Pretorius to accompany Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi, South Africa went in pace heavy.
As was the case in the first match against England, though, Rabada and Ngidi could not strike with the new ball.
There was a clear plan to dig it in short in the hope of troubling the batsmen, but it backfired as the likes of Shakib Al Hasan (75), Mushfiqur Rahim (78) and Mahmudullah (46*) coped with ease.
Phehlukwayo, however, showed that control is just as important as raw pace.
Over the past two years he has developed an arsenal of deliveries that include cutters, yorkers, knuckle balls and slower ball bouncers, and he uses them all.
He finished with figures of 1/44 from 8 overs against England and then 2/52 from 10 against Bangladesh, leaving him with tournament figures of 3/96 from 18 at an economy rate of just 5.33 .
Given that the Proteas have shipped 311 and 330 in their two bowling efforts so far, that is an impressive return and it makes Phehlukwayo the pick of the South Africa seamers over the two games.
With Lungi Ngidi out of Wednesday’s clash against India with a hamstring strain and with Dale Steyn a doubt as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury, the importance of Phehlukwayo to this bowling attack moving forward cannot be understated.
His philosophy is a simple one.
“There is always going to be an opportunity for me to get a wicket because guys are going to look to be extra positive against me,” he told media on Thursday after South Africa’s shocking loss.
“I try and keep it really basic and present the seam, and throw in one or two bouncers and, depending on the surface, change my pace. It’s been working for now and hopefully I can keep contributing to the team as much as I can.
“When you’re not as quick as the other guys and you’re not as tall then you don’t have as much bounce, then you need to come up with different tools you can use in the game.
“I try to keep the batter guessing and keep him on his toes.”
On the disappointment of the Bangladesh loss, the 23-year-old was remaining optimistic.
“There have been some bad days in my cricketing career, and I’ve learnt to understand that it’s not the end of the world. We’re a team that bounces back from these kinds of situations. We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again,” he said.
“This is a big tournament. Anyone can beat anyone else on the day if you play good cricket.”
That may be true, but up until now the Proteas have not played anywhere near good enough cricket and that has been the problem.
If they are to make a play in the competition, they will have to be significantly better.
In Phehlukwayo, at least, they seem to have one seamer on the right track.
@LloydBurnard is in England covering the 2019 Cricket World Cup for Sport24 …
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Publish date : 2019-06-04 12:22:41