How Proteas stars fared in the IPL in the desert
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Johannesburg - In addition to the value the likes of Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortjé provided to their respective IPL franchises during the UAE leg of the competition, they, along with Aiden Markram and Tabriaz Shamsi, were also tasked with intelligence gathering on venues and pitches ahead of the ICC T20 World Cup.
But finding confidence and form were important as well. Stuart Hess looks at how the Proteas fared in the IPL’s stint in the UAE.
Quinton de Kock (Mumbai Indians)
* 5 matches - 142 runs - Average 28.4, Strike-rate 114.51
Did Okay, but Mumbai probably needed more from him as they missed out on a play-off spot. Brainstrust at the franchise seemed to get irritated with the fact that De Kock got starts, used up a lot of balls in doing so, but never kicked on, so they dropped him for the last two matches. Has been the Proteas’ form player in 2021, and is an important part of the leadership crew on the field, so not much to worry about with him.
Lungi Ngidi (Chennai Super Kings)
* Did not play
Was sent to the UAE to work with the Proteas’ former fitness coach Greg King, who is on the staff at the franchise, instead of touring Sri Lanka. Last played a match in July, and mystery still surrounds Ngidi’s ailment, but it is understood to have been very serious. He has said he will talk about it at a later stage. SA’s two warm-up matches, on Monday against Afghanistan and Wednesday against Pakistan, will be vital for Ngidi to prove his match readiness ahead of the World Cup.
Anrich Nortjé (Delhi Capitals)
* 8 matches - 12 wickets, Average 15.58, Economy 6.16
Admitted to being frustrated about the lack of opportunities during the Indian leg of the tournament, where he didn’t feature. However in the UAE, he was vital in helping Delhi secure top spot on the points table. Nortje is fast, accurate and err, fast. He’ll leak runs (mainly batsmen deflecting the ball or edging over and through the slips), but that’s all right, as long as he’s taking wickets, which he did in the UAE.
Kagiso Rabada (Delhi Capitals)
* 8 matches - 7 wickets, Average 32.57, Economy 7.6
On the one hand, the lack of wickets was worrying. Delhi certainly wanted more from Rabada in that respect, because he’s been so critical to them in the last few seasons. On the other hand, his economy rate in the UAE was below eight an over, so he was providing control. If batsmen aren’t scoring off him, that means they’ll have to take risks against others. Arguably the Proteas’ best option at the ‘death’ with the ball.
Aiden Markram (Punjab Kings)
* 6 matches - Average 29.2, Strike-rate 122.68
A wonderful learning experience for Markram and not only from the perspective of assessing conditions, but also the fact he was put in so many pressure situations. Not fixed to one spot in the batting order either, which helped him to be adaptable, it will be interesting to watch how he brings those experiences to the fore in Proteas green (or gold), and if South Africa’s strategists choose to vary his position in the batting order, or keep him at No 3, where he’s been very successful lately.
Tabraiz Shamsi (Rajasthan Royals)
* Played once - 0/34 v Capitals
Roped into the Royals squad following a couple of withdrawals, he played just the one match in Abu Dhabi. And while he didn’t pick up a wicket, he wasn’t overly expensive, conceding one four, one six, and bowling only two dots, with the Capitals batsmen looking to knock him around rather than out of the ground. A crucial part of a potent looking Proteas attack, the extra training and travelling in the UAE would have done him plenty of good.