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23 December 2013

South Africa get their tactics wrong at the end of brilliant run chase

Interesting to see the aftermath of the great Test match in SA where South Africa ended up 8 runs short of chasing 458 with 7 wickets down.   Both sides asking why the other wasn't more attacking....I've got to say I have more sympathy with India's viewpoint given that when du Plessis got out South Africa needed 16 off 19, and given that India bowled 91 overs in the day, one more than they needed to.   

Philander (who has just become number 1 bowler in the world ahead of Steyn) is an excellent lower order batsman and Steyn can certainly strike a few, so Steyn needed to take the risks when on strike with the field in and Philander should have dealt in singles (seeing as there were 9 fielders around the boundary), looking to push for twos if at all possible.   Having got so close, it doesn't seem sensible to pull out, even if you have an injured player and a very poor batsman to come.   If they really felt that concerned about Morkel and Tahir, perhaps they should have sent one or both of them in to have a swing before Steyn, rather than Steyn simply blocking out the third from last over, and then Philander refusing singles in the penultimate over (view the ball-by-ball text commentary here).

Still, both sides played their part in a brilliant game so credit to both.   What a pity that there's only one more match to go....it doesn't even constitute a series to be honest!

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4 comments:

Wisey said...
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Wisey said...
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Wisey said...
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Wisey said...

Spot on. Not really a surprise that South Africa chose this course of action or India for that matter as Fletcher is naturally risk averse. Both teams figured that they had probably got out of jail and backed themselves to win a one off test at Kingsmead starting later today. A shame as South Africa missed a chance to make some history. They closed off the option of winning too early. Once a team closes off the option of winning the pressure actually switches back on to them. They become the hunted rather than the hunter if blocking out for the draw.

If they keep both the option of the win and the draw open there is far more pressure on the fielding side. This is one reason why SA got trough the day.

Conversely England have faced daunting totals in their series recently but as they have had no chance of winning there has been no pressure on the Australian bowlers. It has been entirely on England making survival virtually impossible.


At the stage South Africa shut up shop they had other options. The problem was that pressure changed the momentum in the match and they felt they only had two options - play for the draw or the win. Actually they had a third which was keep playing and try and take it to the last over. This would have kept the pressure on Dhoni and the bowlers as well.

Pressure changes in run chases when it is suddenly felt that the batting side 'should' win the match. Prior to this point there is less pressure as the chasing team is expected to lose or draw meaning there is no expectation. South Africa had played so well that they had got themselves into a position where they were probably in the box seat. In this situation if a wicket then falls but the chasing side are still just favourites then there is huge pressure. This was what happened when AB Dv was out. It usually leads to another wicket and in this case caused Du Plesis to run himself out.

To say Steyn could have just hit a six as he did at the end would be short sighted as he didn't get many in his half. But Phillander could have picked up the singles and Steyn's best low risk option was to try and slash one over the slips. There were several balls he could have done this to. There were 19 balls remaining at the crucial point with 16 to win. If they had scored 4 singles and one boundary they could still have taken it to the last over with 8 dot balls. They could then re-assess and see where they were.

Teams make decisions too early as tight finishes in time cricket are quite an alien concept. In limited overs cricket the decision is taken out of the player's hands. Usually the best tactic is to take the game as far as possible to the very end with an open mind.