Cape Town — In the entire history of the T20 Cup, no team have become champions without losing a match.
And no side has ever won more than 12 straight matches in bilateral T20I cricket.
Therein lies the beauty of the shortest form of the game: anything can happen and usually does.
This is what South Africa will be thinking after their top order were blown away in bowler-friendly conditions in the first T20I against India at Greenfield Stadium on Wednesday night.
They will know that being reduced to 9/5 is an anomaly and not the norm.
The only fear heading into the second T20i in Guwahati on Sunday is that it follows up a record-low T20I total of 87 the last time the Proteas were in India too.
And that it’s not the traditional lack of nous against the turning ball that is proving to be their undoing, but rather the inefficiency to deal with seam and swing.
India have managed to cobble together such an impressive group of seam bowlers in recent times that they hardly missed a beat this week when talisman Jasprit Bumrah was ruled out of the series through injury.
Furthermore, they can even afford to rest leaders of the attack in Bhuvuneshwar Kumar and Mohammad Shami and still call on the likes of Deepak Chahar, Arshdeep Singh, Harshal Patel, Avesh Khan and Mohammed Siraj.
For all T20I cricket’s reliance on statistics and match-ups that formulate results, the basic principle of a solid start in the Powerplay remains imperative. And South Africa simply have to find a way to negotiate the new ball in order to build momentum through their innings.
“I don’t think we want to dwell too much on what has transpired, but it is something that we can address going forward and hopefully we can rectify that,” Proteas left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj, who surprisingly top-scored in the first match with 41, said.
“I think something we need to address is the new ball and the way we’re playing it. There is a lot of swing, so maybe it’s adjusting our plans and mindset and building from there.
“I just think the application we showed up front, maybe we need to reassess that and find ways to combat the swing.”
Part of finding a solution lies somewhere between the correct aptitude and selecting the right personnel.
Although coach Mark Boucher and captain Temba Bavuma had stated in the build-up that they are trying to work out combinations ahead of this month’s T20 Cup and will therefore be shuffling around some of the players, the decision to omit Reeza Hendricks from the starting XI was a bit against the grain.
The Lions opener is in the form of his life, having struck four half-centuries in his last five T20I’s, before carrying that momentum through to Namibia’s Global T20 where he added a further 77, 31, 55 and 94* in four matches.
And everyone knows that when the tide is flowing with you in this manner then it’s best to ride the wave until its very end.
Bavuma’s return from injury, of course, had to be accommodated, but the time is fast approaching when Quinton de Kock can be relieved of his duties.
It may precipitate a double change – with Heinrich Klaasen coming into the middle-order, which could place young Tristan Stubbs’ middle-order spot in danger, to take the gloves – but something drastic needs to done for De Kock to get himself into gear again with just a fortnight to go before the global jamboree Down Under.