Proteas prove much too strong in Benoni

South Africa made light work of a small total to win by 8 wickets

To say that the Dutch were given a cricket lesson in Benoni on Friday, when they lost to South Africa by eight wickets, would be only partly true, for Scott Edwards made it crystal-clear in his post-match interview that his side are well aware of what they need to do to close the gap in ODIs.

There is, however, a big difference between knowing and doing, and without several of their best players they struggled to compete against the Proteas’ professionalism and determination, not to mention talent.

That is not to say that there were not diamond-like flashes of Dutch brilliance, even in as comprehensive a defeat as this.

For the opening forty minutes or so, indeed, the honours were effectively even, Marco Jansen repeatedly beating the bat and Vikram Singh showing his mettle by twice lifting Rabada over midwicket for six, the first of them clearing the grandstand, and then smacking another off Sisanda Magala.

That, however, was as good as it got, for once Magala had removed first Max O’Dowd, caught behind for 18, and then Singh, beaten by the bounce on a trickily inconsistent pitch, the story largely became one of slow decline.

That opening stand had put on 58 at nearly a run a ball, Singh contributing a splendid 45, but the combination of the pace of Anrich Nortje and the wiles of left-arm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi ensured that the Dutch middle order was fighting for survival, and at 127 for six a seriously low total seemed on the cards.

There was defiant resistance, though, from Teja Nidamanuru, whose 71-ball 48 also included three sixes, and in the end the Netherlands had mustered 189.

Magala, who had returned to add Nidamanuru’s scalp, finished with three for 37, while Shamsi, always dangerous, had three for 25.

It looked like a cakewalk for the Proteas, but off-spinner Aryan Dutt again proved his worth with the new ball, inducing a top-edge from Quinton de Kock which Fred Klaassen gratefully accepted at backward square.

But Temba Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen took full advantage of anything even slightly loose, and the Dutch cause was not helped by a collision between Dutt and Musa Ahmad on the square leg boundary which resulted in a painful blow to Dutt’s left knee.

Paul van Meekeren opened with two maidens as Bavuma and Van der Dussen, under no pressure from the scoreboard, worked to build a platform, and by drinks they had taken the score to 80 for one.

As so often, the break produced a wicket, and it was Klaassen who took the wicket, a bouncer catching the top edge and flying to Musa at midwicket.

Aiden Markram now joined Bavuma, and there was an immediate change of gears, Markram’s aggression producing a response from his captain.

Dutt, in obvious pain, had returned to the field and now came back into the attack, but he was clearly hampered by the injury and lacked the control which is his principal weapon, and suddenly the Proteas were within 50 runs of their target.

With the rain approaching Bavuma and Markram were now in top gear, the fifty stand coming from just 41 deliveries, every over producing at least one boundary.

Bavuma’s half-century had come from 55 balls, but he faced only another 24 in going on to an unbeaten 90, hammering Ryan Klein over mid-off to complete the victory, Markram finishing with a 39-ball 51 not out.

Adelaide suddenly seemed a distant memory.

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