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Monday, December 11, 2023

Bowlers must step up in Bullring decider as Proteas try to sort out Cup combos

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Today the Bullring will decide who between the Proteas and Australia will take momentum to India for the Cup.

The fifth and final ODI between the two nations will take place at the DP Wanderers Stadium today with the series level at two-all.

After Australia’s dominance in the first two ODIs, the Proteas have turned the tide and gone on to win the next two.

From the T20I series whitewash, a lot has changed as South Africa have given doubters one or two things to think about after an absolute dominance in Centurion on Friday.

Heading into that fourth ODI, South Africa needed the middle-to-lower order to get runs under the belt before going to India for the Cup as the top order in Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock and Aiden Markram had already proved their readiness for the sport’s biggest tournament.

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Rassie van der Dussen, South Africa’s go-to number three in the batting order, got a valuable half-ton in Centurion, while Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller finally came to the fore and made their presence felt with a massive 222-run stand on Friday.

With the boxes ticked on a batting front, all that’s left to do is to have the top six perform in the same match, and today’s series-decider is an excellent opportunity to do so.

“Our batting unit is in a very good space,” said Klaasen.

“All of our guys are on form, we’ve got runs under the belt.”

All the batters, perhaps with the exception of De Kock, have had it tough early on in their international careers and now, through maturity, things seem to be coming together nicely.

Even for back-up batter in Reeza Hendricks, the last year has been excellent and it can only be because of maturity.

With maturity comes an acute understanding of self and the role you have to play for the team to succeed.

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“I would say the last two years for me was the turning point of my career,” said Klaasen.

“I took a lot of options out of the bag. You look up to some role models and you want to be like them, like AB de Villiers.

“For me I explored a lot with it and it didn’t work out. Now I had to take a lot of options out of the bag.

“For me it’s about maturing into my game, knowing what my options are.”

The batters look a lot more comfortable in their games and they have shown it in the last two games.

However, on the bowling front there have been good individual performances, and despite defending 416 on Friday, it was not a clinical performance.

Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi, Keshav Maharaj and Kagiso Rabada have all improved immensely through the series but they are yet to have a good game as a collective.

The fifth ODI starts at 10am at the Wanderers Stadium.


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