The Proteas are in the last-chance saloon on Wednesday if their Test series victory over India is not to be relegated to distant memory as the tourists stand poised to add the T20 bragging rights to their comprehensive triumph in the ODI series.
South Africa tackle India in the must-win second T20 international at Centurion.
With India claiming the ODI series by a thumping 5-1 margin, the Proteas’ marvellous Test series win over the No 1-ranked side is in danger of being forgotten, so dramatically have Ottis Gibson’s charges imploded.
Clear heads currently seem to be few and far between in the Proteas camp at present given the perplexing selections and tactics that have bedevilled their white-ball efforts, and it took one of their rookies, Junior Dala, who made his international debut last weekend in the first T20 at the Wanderers, to try and put matters into perspective.
“India have played very good cricket but we feel we’re not too far away. It could turn around on Wednesday and then if we win on Sunday, everyone will say it was a good tour for us because we won by two series to one. In 20/20 cricket, obviously you need to assess the pitch early on, and we had a game plan that we stuck with at the Wanderers.
“In hindsight, India could adapt better because they had seen us bowling on the pitch. In the first three overs there were lots of cuts and pulls so maybe we could have changed a bit. It’s not that difficult to change your tactics mid-game, but in T20 everything happens so quickly and it can be difficult to convey messages, so maybe we can improve our communication.
“But we are a young side and maybe we got caught up in the moment. We want to be more proactive rather than reactive and we can’t be predictable,” Dala said.
Apart from bowling too short, South Africa also raised eyebrows at the Wanderers by opening the bowling with the inexperienced Dane Paterson and debutant Dala … and India plundered 78 runs in the first six overs.
But Dala defended captain JP Duminy’s decision to not use experienced fast bowler Chris Morris up front.
“Whether it’s myself or Dane, JP has faith and confidence in us and that’s all we need,” Dala said.
The 28-year-old was nevertheless reasonably happy in terms of his debut performance – although conceding 47 runs in his four overs, he did pick up wickets in each of his first two overs.
Centurion will provide Dala an opportunity to do even better on his home turf, but there is not exactly an abundance of options in terms of making changes to strengthen the feeble Proteas challenge at present.
The uncapped Christiaan Jonker is the spare batsman, while Aaron Phangiso is the backup bowler, but spinner Tabraiz Shamsi did an acceptable job in Johannesburg.