South Africa see their tour of Ireland conclude on Saturday evening when they play a third and final T20 international against the home side. With them having won the first two, usually this third game would be a dead rubber but with game time running out before the World T20, this will be anything but that.
Ireland have lost the series having lost their opening two matches but there is a third chance to build a bit of belief and confidence ahead of them competing in the first stage in the UAE in a few months and they’ll be eager to take it.
Although they are 2-0 down in the series, Ireland have offered more to proceedings than that and they will be desperate to get a chalk on the board to give the series score a better reflection of how the action has gone. Of course, of more importance is to continue to build towards the World T20 but the best way to prepare for any tournament is to win matches. If they can do that it gives them something to build on.
If there is a positive in defeat for Ireland so far it is that they don’t have to search too deep for where they need to improve in order to be even more competitive than they have been. Their bowling has been on the money in the main, keeping South Africa to a couple of respectable scores but unfortunately their batsmen, who were so good in the ODIs, have been found wanting and they haven’t really challenged a win yet.
I think it would be wrong to say that South Africa have been completely convincing or at their best in this series but they have been good enough. Slowly they are looking like a side who know what balance they want to their side and now it is about growing players into the role they are assigning them ahead of the World T20. They could do with finding some extra runs but as I’ve constantly been saying, there is a fear of going too soon because they haven’t got oodles of batting depth.
What they have got is a very good bowling attack and if they are going to go deep in the UAE when the World T20 comes around then you would think it is that unit which will deliver them the success that they happen to have in the tournament. If they can just build a platform that allows them to launch sooner with the bat then they could be players in the World T20, especially with it likely to be played on tired wickets.
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This looks like the strongest side Ireland have so they might give it another chance to come good and build some continuity. If they are to change then the lack of form of Kevin O’Brien would be a concern but he isn’t going to get back into form from the bench.
With the series won this is the chance for South Africa to juggle their options and keep everyone in the squad active in case they stumble across an injury on the eve of the World T20. Kyle Verreynne could be an option in that regard.
Paul Stirling covered his player performance line in the opening over of the previous match and I don’t see a reason why he can’t cover a 28.5 line once again. He hasn’t really come good with the bat yet but he is a streaky player who when he gets in can go big but we saw in the previous match that he doesn’t need to cover the line with the bat alone. He is going to bowl overs and if South Africa go after him he’s more than capable of picking up a wicket.
If he does take a wicket then we are in the territory whereby a catch will be enough to cover this line. He wouldn’t even need to make double figures with the bat either. If he does get going, particularly if Ireland bat first and he has some freedom to launch, then he is perfectly capable of scoring 29 runs with the bat. Really we only need an average game in all departments from the Irishman to cover this line but a decent one in any discipline definitely sees him cover so I’m on the over here.
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