Lefties to the rescue for stuttering Proteas

South Africa: 202/9 after 50 overs (McLaren 55, Duminy 41, Miller 26). Bowling: Asad Ali 3/30, Wahab Riaz 3/30, Junaid Khan 2/41

The Proteas ended up posting a relatively decent score of 202/9 after 50 overs against Pakistan in their ICC Champions Trophy warm-up match at The Oval today.

Questionable shots and stout tail-end batting made South Africa’s final total look better than it really was. On a flat track with minimal cloud cover, South Africa’s inexperienced but highly combustible top order should have scored more than the paltry 48 they put together for their four wickets.

Only Hashim Alma, who was trapped plumb in front by a lovely in-ducker from Junaid Khan’s second ball, could count himself as one who did not give his wicket away. Colin Ingram went for a single that was not there while AB de Villiers and Alviro Petersen played some bad shots that were worth their dismissals.

It was the same case with Farhaan Behardien and Faf du Plessis, who could not resist tickling the impressive Wahab Riaz to Kamran Akmal. Pakistan will hope Akmal’s gloves will be safe for the rest of the tournament as they were today.

Riaz, along with Asad Ali and Junaid Khan, looked like seasoned county bowlers in early spring in the manner in which they varied their movement. If the conditions are to their liking, they will be a difficult proposition to deal with.

David Miller looked the most comfortable batsman before his innings was ended by a mistimed hook that was snaffled by Imran Farhat off Riaz to leave South Africa perilously placed at 83/7.

It was up to the southpaw duo of Ryan McLaren and JP Duminy to salvage the sinking innings with an excellent 94-run partnership.

They showed calmness and an application that was missing from the top order. Whether teams will stack off-spinners to counter the left-handers South Africa will field, McLaren has played himself into the Thursday’s team that will open the ICC Champions Trophy against India.

One thing is for the certain: the South African lower order is in great shape. However, the Proteas will not win the tournament if the top order leaves it to the lower order to rescue matches.

» At the time of publication, Pakistan were 55/1 after 11 overs.

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