It’s been a busy summer for South Africa, as much off the field as on it. After returning from India with their tails between their legs, the Proteas – under new management – embarked on an arduous home series against England.
Having won the first test, they folded like a wet pack of cards, going down 3-1. Then, after having won the first ODI, they shared the spoils thanks to the Durban-washout. Then again clinching the first T20, only to go down 2-1 in emphatic fashion at Supersport Park, failing to defend 222.
Then Australia arrived for a short tour of three T20 bangers and three one day internationals. The Bullring – let us not speak about that debacle as the Proteas succumbed to their lowest T20 total and their heaviest defeat in the shortest format.
However they fought back in brilliant style at St George’s Park, clinching the match by 12 runs after the visitors were cruising at 124 for two in pursuit of 159. Now the circus moves to the Mother City where, I’m afraid, things do not look good.
South Africa have played 11 T20’s under the shadow of Table Mountain and have only managed four victories, two against England and one each against Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Against Austrlia – played two, lost two! In their first encounter in October 2011, South Africa stumbled to 147 for six thanks mainly to the Proteas all-time run scorer, JP Duminy, who notched a 53-ball 67. Pat Cummins was the pick of the bowlers, claiming 3-25 in four overs.
In reply, the Aussies cruised to 147 for five with three balls to spare as Shane Watson crafted a 39-ball 52 while Shaun Marsh (25), Dave Hussey (25) and Cameron White (28) provided the balance of the runs.
Fast forward five years and the Proteas fared better with the bat thanks mainly to a magnificent unbeaten 97 off 62 balls from Hashim Amla. David Miller also cracked a 16-ball 30 as South Africa made 178 for four.
But the Aussies once again prevailed with four balls to spare, reaching 181 for four with Steve Smith (44), Watson (42), Usman Khawaja (33) and David Warner (33) being too strong for an attack that included Dale Steyn (0-30), Kagiso Rabada (1-38), Imran Tahir (2-38) and Kyle Abbott (0-32).
The Proteas cannot rely on just their captain, Quinton de Kock, to score big at the top of the order. The likes of Rassie van der Dussen, who has had a good season so far, David Miller and Faf du Plessis, must come to the fore if the home side are to prevail with their third attempt against the Aussies at Newlands.
South Africa need Temba Bavuma fit again to partner De Kock and coach Mark Boucher will be hoping that Heinrich Klaasen, who had a stellar debut against England in the third T20, will be fit again after suffering a freak injury just minutes before the first T20 in Johannesburg.
Given all the players in the squad are fit come Wednesday evening, here is my pick for the match XI:
Quinton de Kock (capt & wk)
Temba Bavuma (if not fit – Jon-Jon Smuts)
Faf du Plessis
Rassie van der Dussen
Heinrich Klaasen (if not fit – David Miller)
3rd T20 – PPC Newlands, Cape Town
Match starts at 18h00