Pakistan’s four-wicket win at Centurion against the Proteas capped off a series where the guests showcased their class with a 3-1 series win in the T20 internationals.
Captain Babar Azam’s 122 off 59 balls shows just how good he can be on his day. He made it all look so easy, middling the ball at will and the South African attack had no answers to a man who is undeniably at the pinnacle of Pakistan cricket at the moment.
Unfortunately South Africa’s bowling attack left a lot to be desired in both white-ball series. The number of extras conceded by the home side was a glaring eyesore on the scorecard. Sisanda Magala was the pick of the bowlers in the final T20I with figures of two for 33 but his performance was spoiled by consecutive no-balls in his final over which allowed Pakistan to win.
Nevertheless, he and fellow international newcomer Lizaad Williams are exciting prospects, Williams providing a certain electricity in the field and with ball in hand. His discipline and ability to execute yorkers was refreshing. Furthermore, to do it while senior bowlers like Beuran Hendricks went missing was remarkable.
There were successes with the bat as well, Aiden Markram scoring three consecutive half-centuries at breakneck pace, for an overall scoring rate of 182. Performances like these make it difficult to believe that he’s only in the team as a result of captain Temba Bavuma’s injury.
That is something that also needs to be remembered: there were gaping holes in the line-up due to those injuries and those absent at the IPL. But that gives the selectors a major task on their hands leading up to the T20 World Cup. Where would the likes of Markram feature in a team with Quinton de Kock, Bavuma and David Miller? Not to mention a potential return for Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers whose experience, especially in the sub-continent, it would be ludicrous to ignore.
On that latest point there was some good news yesterday when De Villiers, fresh from a stunning unbeaten 76 in a winning cause for RCB against the Knight Riders in the IPL, confirmed that he was due to have talks with Proteas’ coach Mark Boucher in the coming weeks.
Speaking in the post-match press conference, De Villiers, who last donned a South Africa jersey in April 2018, but whose offer to return for the 2019 World Cup was rejected, said: “It will be fantastic to play for South Africa again. I will be speaking with Boucher at the late end of the IPL – last year, he asked me whether I am interested and I said ‘absolutely’.
“At the end of the IPL, we will have a look at where we are at with regards to my form, my fitness, and also the situation with his team. He has to get the best 15 together and look at the guys that have been performing well over the last while.
“If there is no space for me, so be it. If I can slot in there, it’ll be fantastic for all these things to fall into place.”