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Proteas push the reset button

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“It’s a new game and a new start. For us to play consistent cricket it’s important that we start each game like it’s the first game of a series.”

Keshav Maharaj has offered simple and basic advice to his Proteas teammates: “It’s important that we start each game like it’s the first game of a series.”

While it may not sound like the most strategic of game plans, it is essential that South Africa learn to replicate the performances they deliver in the opening game of series. On three occasions this summer they have taken the lead in the opener, only to lose momentum as the series progressed.

“The first game is gone and it was an exceptional effort from the guys,” Maharaj said ahead of the second one-day international against Australia today. “We’ll take the positives from the previous game and build on the areas we can improve.

“It’s a new game and a new start. For us to play consistent cricket it’s important that we start each game like it’s the first game of a series.”

Quinton de Kock’s team were certainly a much-improved unit at Boland Park over the weekend. Maharaj’s recall after an 18-month absence from the ODI team had a major impact on the bowling unit.

It gave De Kock the option to take pace off the ball in the powerplay by introducing Maharaj into the attack early on. The Paarl Rocks used a similar tactic with fellow Proteas left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin with huge success in the Mzansi Super League at Boland Park.

Plenty of what the Proteas’ did right on Saturday actually came from the Rocks’ playbook. Left-arm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi was excellent in the middle overs – just like he is for the Rocks – and tied the Australian middle order into knots.

There was a third Rocks championship winner in Kyle Verreynne who showed the rest of the Proteas batting unit how to adapt to a slow surface. All season the Proteas have relied solely on De Kock for their source of runs, but Verreynne showed there are others who can be depended on too.

Verreynne’s confidence filtered through to the rest of the batting unit, with Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller prospering as well.

It certainly showed that SA have more arrows in their quiver besides De Kock.

“Quinny has been our batting stalwart for a long time but it just showed that with the youngsters in our side like Kyle Verreynne he put his hand up and made a vital 48,” Maharaj said.

“David Miller came through with his experience. Heinrich’s played a handful of international games but the maturity he showed in his innings and how he paced himself looked like he’s been there for a long time. We’re coming out of the phase where we’re no longer a one-man team. We play as a team and guys are putting their hands up in various games which is positive and important for us.”

The performance of the middle order was even more pleasing considering Australia had reduced the home team to 48/3. The left-arm spinner believes the Australians did not let their guard down and will come back even stronger in Bloemfontein today.

“You could see in the way they started that nothing was taken for granted. Klaasen and Miller played exceptionally well to take us to the score we had.

“They’ve got a world-class batting line-up and Lungi (Ngidi) ran through that batting order and made life a bit easier for our bowlers at the back end” Maharaj said.

Start: 1:30pm TV: SS2 and Sabc3

Squads for Bloemfontein

Proteas: Quinton de Kock (captain), Temba Bavuma, David Miller, Kagiso Rabada, Andile Phehlukwayo, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi, Beuran Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, Janneman Malan, Jon-Jon Smuts, Anrich Nortje, Lutho Sipamla, Keshav Maharaj, Kyle Verreynne.

Australia: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey (vc), Pat Cummins (vc), Josh Hazlewood, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitch Marsh, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, D’Arcy Short, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa.

Start: 1:30pm TV: SS2 and Sabc3