In the 20-over clash, South Africa were again strangulated by spin as they were shot down for just 98 – their lowest score in T20Is. South Africa did push Sri Lanka before the hosts sealed a three-wicket win. “I don’t think we’re walking away from Sri Lanka with negativity,” Duminy said after the loss. “I think there’s a lot of positives. I’ve certainly experienced many tours of the subcontinent when you walk away with your head in your hands not knowing where your next run or next wicket is going to come from. Yes there’s disappointment about the Test series, but from a one-day perspective, we’ve taken huge strides in my opinion. I’m excited by the brand of cricket we’re trying to adopt. I believe we can only get better.”
South Africa, however, will be mighty pleased with the growth Tabraiz Shamsi showed as a player during the tour. He was at the forefront of South Africa’s attack and at times overshadowed Keshav Maharaj during the Test series. Defending a small total in the T20I, Shamsi bagged the two senior in-form batsmen – Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera (both for ducks), and allowed South Africa to put up a fight. Duminy was certainly left excited with what the left-arm spinner brings to the table.
“Tabraiz is an exciting prospect for South African cricket and he’s a wicket-taker,” he pointed out. “If you look at Imran Tahir who’s been a match-winner for us for many years, to have another one coming through now, it’s fantastic. Even Keshav Maharaj has been a match-winner for South Africa. That’s exciting to see for our spin department. Spin coach Claude Henderson has played a big role in that, working with the spinners. It’s exciting to see them put their hands up in these conditions.
“The opportunity to pick both (Shamsi and Tahir) of them is exciting. If you have conditions similar to Sri Lanka, or even English conditions – that’s where the World Cup is going to be – that’s a good option to have, if you know that the opposition doesn’t necessarily play spin well. It’s definitely a great feather in our cap.”
Even in the batting department, led by Duminy, various batsmen stood up at different times in the absence of Faf du Plessis (to go with the recent retirement of AB de Villiers) and ensured the visitors posted big totals. With the world cup set to take place in less than a year, the winning show in Sri Lanka would serve as a good confidence-booster for South Africa.
However, coach Ottis Gibson isn’t pleased with how the batsmen turned defensive against spin in the last two games of the tour. “It is defined, we want to be positive. But we still have to be making decisions. The teams and the players that make the best decisions under pressure are the ones that perform better. The decision of some of our players are questionable,” Gibson said.
“When the ball is spinning, some guys play spin well, some guys don’t. But I still liked the fact that we tried to score runs. My thing is, if you are defending, you’re still not scoring runs. So you have to try and score.
“It’s a concern when people gone into a shell. In the first three games, we scored runs. Akila went for runs, because we were positive. We had better decision making. We swept and we scored. I don’t want the guys to go in a shell and look to defend. I still want the guys to go and score. In the first three games, when we looked to score, he got wickets, but we still scored. In the last couple of games, where we tried to defend, it was a different story.”