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SA vs BAN – T20 World Cup 2021

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With five different slower variations in his arsenal, he has become his captain’s go-to end-overs bowler

Dwaine Pretorius has fallen into a death-bowling role because the rest of South Africa’s attack is doing so well that they have to be used earlier in the innings. That’s how the allrounder explained his new role in the team, which has seen him take the ball in the last four overs.

“Maybe the situations of the games dictated that I might have to bowl a few of the last overs. We’ve been striking quite early and our spin department has been phenomenal. So maybe Temba (Bavuma) is just struggling to get a spot for me to bowl in the middle because the other guys are bowling so well, so it’s left me with the end job,” Pretorius said.

It’s a big responsibility for someone without much of a track record but Pretorius, who previously had an economy rate of 10.38 in 36 overs at the death, has outdone himself in the last three matches. He has taken six wickets and conceded at a rate of 8.64 and has managed to surprise batters with variations in speed and length.

“The danger at the death is being predictable so I’m trying to vary my pace and my lengths quite a bit, even though my line is the same,” he said. “I’m trying to keep the guys guessing and trying to make sure I am bowling to their guys’ plan Cs and Ds instead of their plan A. It’s not an ego battle out there, it’s trying to be effective as much as possible. I am willing to do that ugly job. It doesn’t necessarily always have to look the prettiest but it’s effective. And I have built my whole career on that.”

Specifically, Pretorius has spent this tournament maintaining a fairly wide line outside the off stump and delivering a variety of slower balls, with as many as five different ones in his arsenal. Tabraiz Shamsi called Pretorius a “scholar of the game,” after South Africa’s victory against Sri Lanka and the allrounder confirmed as much as he explained how he has been training.

“I worked a lot on different variations of slower balls. In the T20 World Cup, if you’ve only got one option, you’d be in trouble so I am really trying to mix it up. Even though the line may be predictable, you are still not sure which ball is going to come out. Having five options is something that I have really worked hard on,” he said. “You try and prepare for every situation you may be thrown into. That’s my secret at the moment: trying to make sure that I am prepared for any situation.”

Pretorius reached that point the hard way. He was absent for much of the lead-up to the tournament after fracturing a rib and missing the home series against Pakistan in April and then contracting Covid-19 and not being able to go on South Africa’s winter tours to the West Indies and Ireland, considered crucial in their plans for this tournament. “It was a frustrating time in my career,” Pretorius said. “On day one after getting Covid-19, I was stressed. But I am quite a religious guy so after day one, I sent up a prayer and then I just trusted that at the end of the day, God’s will will be done. That was my method of dealing with it mentally. I am very blessed that I am here.”

Luckily for Pretorius, his was only a mild case of Covid-19 and he returned to training within the stipulated protocol times and was back for South Africa’s series in Sri Lanka.” If I didn’t test, I would have thought I just had a stuffy nose,” Pretorius said. I got through it quite easily. I was quite fortunate. I could start training quite early. Some players have it tougher than I have.”

Pretorius was back for South Africa’s series against Sri Lanka, was picked in the T20 World Cup squad ahead of George Linde and Andile Phehlukwayo and has so far been preferred over Wiaan Mulder in the starting XI. Although Pretorius has not contributed with the bat yet, he is proving decisive in the last four overs for South Africa and has embraced the ethos of contributing to the collective. “We are not relying on one or two superstars to get us over the line. Our whole team is contributing. There’s a lot of guys that have got in, scored runs. Our team is in a very good space.”

Much like the rest of the talk that has come out of the South African camp in the last week post the CSA board directive that the entire team must take a knee and the aftermath of that, Pretorius delivered a message of unity. “What astonishes me is how this team has struck together. It doesn’t really matter what controversy comes out or what is happening at board level or CSA level,” Pretorius said. “The guys are forming a family.”

Unlike teams such as India, who have spent longer in bubbles and complained of fatigue, Pretorius said the pandemic is having some positive spin-offs for South Africa, who have emerged from their status as underdogs to a team to watch in the next few days. “That’s probably one of the biggest advantages when it comes to Covid and bubble life. You are forced to spend a lot of time together,” he said. “You start to realise how much it means to each other to be playing for your country. It doesn’t matter if it’s a single, a no-ball or a wide, whenever we give that away, we are going to fight to get that back. We are not going to stop fighting until the last ball is bowled. We are not going to leave anything to chance. That’s our promise to each other in the team every day.”

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent



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Ind vs NZ, 2nd Test

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Tendulkar also praises Gill, saying the batter has the technique to bat at any position in Tests

Tendulkar was also impressed by the other opener, Shubman Gill, saying the youngster has the required technique and temperament to bat at any position in Tests but he needs to convert those starts into big knocks.

“There was moisture beneath the surface. Mayank took some time to get into the groove and once he was in the groove, he capitalised by putting pressure on spinners,” Tendulkar told PTI. “The hallmark of Mayank’s innings was that he was able to punish good deliveries too. When a bowler knows a batter can punish your good deliveries, then there is an element of doubt in him.

“What if the batter steps out and hits you and all those things go in bowler’s head and disturb his rhythm.”

Gill scored 52 and 1 in the Kanpur Test and was bowled by Kyle Jamieson both times. In Mumbai, he looked unperturbed on 44 before he got out to left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel, who finished with a historic 10 for 119.

So does Tendulkar believe that Gill has the technique to do well in South Africa if he bats in middle order?

“When it comes to technique, different surfaces will test you differently. I think Shubman has an advantage as he played a very crucial innings (91) in Brisbane where we won the Test match,” Tendulkar said. “He has had the experience of playing on hard and bouncy tracks and I felt that he looked pretty comfortable. So, I don’t think there is any technical issue as such.”

But does staying “beside the line of the ball” become more advantageous on these surfaces for a batter?

“When he was playing the new ball [in Australia], I think he was behind the line and when the ball got old, he was marginally beside the line as he got to know how much the ball was swinging, how the field is set,” Tendulkar explained. “Accordingly, you decide whether you need to be behind the line to play on the on-side or stay beside the line and hit on the off side.”

However, Tendulkar wants Gill to convert his starts and is confident that he will do that consistently sooner than later.

“Shubman has started well and shown a lot of promise. The way he builds his innings, he has been good so far. Just that he needs to go further and convert those 40s into big scores.”

He doesn’t want Gill to take too much stress about three-figure marks.

“Once you get into that squad, it is about how hungry you are for bigger scores which I am sure he is. He needs to just convert those starts and not lose concentration. Both in Kanpur and Mumbai, he got a good deliveries. He is on a learning curve and will definitely take lessons.”

Tendulkar was all praise for Shreyas Iyer as well, who impressed on his debut in Kanpur with scores of 105 and 65.

“I thought Shreyas was fantastic and made most of the opportunities he got, at one stage the scoreboard wasn’t looking that good and he came up with a gem of an innings and resulted in India almost winning the Test. Both his knocks were important,” he said. “I am sure anxiety levels were there but it helped that he had made his T20 debut quite some time ago and these kinds of things ease up your pressure and it allows you to play your natural game.

“Early on, he must have felt nerves and once he connected, he must have felt more confident.”



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BCCI secretary Jay Shah – India to tour South Africa for three Tests, three ODIs, T20Is to be played later

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“The remaining four T20Is will be played at a later date,” BCCI secretary says

BCCI secretary Jay Shah has confirmed that the Indian team’s tour of South Africa will go ahead, but only for the three Tests and three ODIs, and the four T20Is that were also part of the original tour will be played later.

“BCCI has confirmed CSA that the Indian team will travel for three Tests and three ODIs. The remaining four T20Is will be played at a later date,” Shah told ANI.

There has been a lot of doubt around the tour to South Africa because of the new Covid-19 variant, Omicron, in the country that has led to a surge in cases and hospitalisations, especially in the Gauteng province where India are scheduled to play the first two Tests before moving south to Cape Town.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) had also postponed three games of round four of Division 2 four-day matches after some players tested positive. The one-day matches due to take place on December 16 have also been pushed back to 2022.
India captain Virat Kohli had also said on the eve of the ongoing Test against New Zealand in Mumbai that it was natural for such a tour to involve a lot of planning and preparation.

“Look, it is pretty natural [for them to wonder and worry and talk about whether the tour will go ahead and what the protocols will be],” Kohli had said on Thursday. “We are not playing in normal times anyway. So there is a lot of planning that is involved, a lot of preparation that is involved in terms of understanding exactly what is going to go on. There are players who are not part of the group right now who will be entering quarantine to join the team bubble to fly in a charter.”

When exactly the BCCI and CSA agree to play the four T20Is remains to be seen as another T20 World Cup is approaching in 2022, and both teams already have packed schedules for the coming year.



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Justin Langer hopes that Tim Paine could return to Test cricket

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“Not sure we’ve seen the end of him but we’ll wait and see, that will be his decision”



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