- South Africa’s bowling lineup showed the depth as they restrict Bangladesh at 84 sending all their batsmen back to the pavilion
- Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje, both, took 3 wickets
- South Africa changes the target with 39 balls to spare
South Africa’s attack with the bowl goes from being impressive to almost unplayable and it was proved in their match against Bangladesh in the ongoing ICC T20 World Cup, on Tuesday.
Amid South Africa’s continued batting concerns, their bowlers have kept their knockout hopes alive, with every bowler having found some form, including Kagiso Rabada, who took a career-best 3 for 20 against Bangladesh in their last game.
The reason why Rabada’s wickets were crucial is that all of the 3 wickets came in the Powerplay, where he has not been as effective as would have been expected.
Though Rabada had taken 39 T20 wickets in the UAE before Tuesday evening, the third-most for any bowler in the last three years, he had only taken four in the Powerplay.
After yesterday’s match, that figure has gone up to seven wickets out of 42 although, of the 22 bowlers who have that number of Powerplay wickets or more, Rabada’s strike rate is the worst.
However, that is all much of a muchness when we consider how effective Rabada has been outside the Powerplay.
His 35 wickets from overs between 6 and 20 in the UAE have come at an average of 16.6 and a strike rate of 11.8. May say that could be the result of how he has been used.
Rabada said, “In the past, I was asked to bowl more in the middle overs. Now, I am bowling a lot more in the Powerplay so I have to find a way in the Powerplay.
“Different captains use me at different times. I know I can bowl at any phase of the game and I will be expected to bowl at any phase of the game.
“Wherever I am asked to bowl, I try to make the most out of it.”
Rabada is not wrong when he says that his use in the Powerplay had decreased and lately has been limited to being a back up.
Until the year 2017, 55.8% of the deliveries Rabada bowled in T20s were in the Powerplay, however, in 2018 and 2019, that went down to 28.9% and 22.6% respectively.
If we see in last two years (2020 and 2021) Rabada has bowled just over 30% of his T20 deliveries in the Powerplay.
Having said this, it is still some distance off what it was, it seems that under Temba Bavuma, and in specifically helpful conditions, his role in that period could increase.
He said, “I bowled three overs upfront and there was a bit of bounce, a bit of seam movement and some swing.
“The conditions were in my favour and all I had to do was get the ball in the right area”.
On a green top, with humidity at over 70% – the highest it has been for several days – Rabada found late swing and good bounce. His headline delivery was the inswinging yorker that beat Soumya Sarkar’s defensive push and struck him on the front boot. With Anrich Nortje, who also bagged a career-best with his 3 for 8, South Africa has an attack that could get them into the knockouts. But they need their batting to inspire a little more confidence in following suit.
Kagiso Rabada has come storming back into form for South Africa ICC via Getty
South Africa have too many top-order players and not enough middle-order batters in the line-up. Although they insist their strength is flexibility, they’re really just moving opening batters around and may need to sacrifice one of them to make room for their only other option: Heinrich Klaasen. But which one?
Quinton de Kock has not contributed much besides the biggest controversy of the tournament so far, but his reputation makes him undroppable. Aiden Markram is doing well at No.4 and contributes some overs while Rassie van der Dussen has been in the runs and is relied on as steadier.
That may mean Reeza Hendricks, who has been rewarded for stepping up when it mattered, but hasn’t done enough since. Even if Hendricks is left out, Klaasen’s run hasn’t been much better. He scored 11 and 14 in the warm-ups and 13 against Australia, compared to Hendricks’ 7 in the warm-up, 39 against West Indies and 11 and 4 since then.
Ultimately, that means South Africa have to hope that Temba Bavuma’s form will continue. Bavuma is not known for being a particularly quick run-getter but his run-a-ball 46 set South Africa up to beat West Indies and he struck at over 100 against Bangladesh. He also seems comfortable coming in lower down the order and bulletproof to the many questions that are asked about his credentials. And he has his defenders, like Rabada.
“With Temba… the results are there. There is nothing more to say about that,” Rabada said. “You will always have critics and it’s something we make peace with. You can’t take the good without the bad.”
So far at this tournament, there has been much more good than bad to Bavuma’s leadership. Apart from his runs, he handled the de Kock issue with diplomacy and empathy and he has been creative in his field placings and clever with his bowling changes.
He has made sure South Africa have ticked the boxes they have wanted to, including in their win against Bangladesh, where they have taken their net run-rate into the black. “We tried to finish the game as early as possible. There was a clear instruction that we should try to finish the game before 15 overs and we did that.” South Africa knocked off the 85 runs they needed inside 14 overs and now have their fate in their own hands.
Their match against England on Saturday is effectively a quarter-final, albeit only from South Africa’s side. Victory will more than likely see them through, even if Australia win their remaining two matches because of their positive net run-rate. Even defeat could get them into the last four, which is more than many would have expected when they came into this tournament and may be a sign that things are not nearly as bad as they seemed.