[OPINION] Mounting injuries a blessing and a curse for the Proteas
It would an understatement to describe the Proteas defeats in the first two ODI’s against India, in Durban and Centurion as dismal. The visitors who, for the first half of their South African tour have been beaten in the first two Test matches, have seemingly turned their fortunes around with victories in the controversial last Test match at the Wanderers and two crushing wins in the ODI’s so far.
The two ODI losses have cut deep and have further underlined the batting deficiencies we have witnessed throughout the Test series. In the three matches played in Cape Town, Centurion and Johannesburg, the Proteas batsmen failed to score a single century in the series.
Admittedly the conditions made batting tough, but in international sport, and especially Test match cricket, overcoming testing conditions is the greatest reward. Those batting woes have transcended into the shorter format of the game of late and have seen the Proteas trail the six-match ODI series 2-0.
The Proteas though have been ravaged with hand injuries to regular captain Faf du Plessis and stalwart, AB de Villiers; the latter is yet to feature in the series after picking up a finger injury in the last Test. Du Plessis who became the first batsman to score a century for the South Africans in this series in the first ODI in Durban also picked up a finger injury in that game and will miss the rest of the limited-overs series. Wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock has also suffered the same fate and has left the Proteas thin in the already struggling batting department.
The injuries to de Kock, de Villiers and du Plessis will test the batting stocks we have in the country. The Dolphins' Khaya Zondo made his ODI debut in the nine-wicket thrashing in Centurion and is set to feature for the remainder of the series.
He constructed a promising 25 before top-edging a sweep of Yuzvendra Chahal who has spun a web around our batsmen so far. Stand in captain, Aiden Markram is only three matches into his ODI career and still lacks experience and Titans gloveman Heinrich Klaasen is expected to make his debut at Newlands in the must-win game for the Proteas.
The injuries are a blessing and a curse for the Proteas, as they have robbed them of quality senior members of the squad, but it is the perfect opportunity for Ottis Gibson to blood a few young players to test the batting depth.
The current series against India may drift away from the Proteas grip but it is an opportunity to develop the next generation of batting talent this country has to offer, with one beady eye on the 2019 World Cup in England.
There is also an opportunity to expose and gain valuable experience of playing against high-quality spinners, as Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have proven to be for India.
Philasande Sixaba is a sports reporter at Eyewitness News.
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