Dwaine Pretorius (Photo by Aamir Qureshi / AFP)
- Dwaine Pretorius focused on keeping the Pakistani batsmen guessing as he recorded the best figures for the Proteas in a T20 on Saturday.
- Balancing that with simplicity was also a priority for the all-rounder, who doesn’t believe a changed bowling action was solely responsible for his haul of wickets.
- Pretorius noted the vital role played by the spinners in laying the platform for South Africa’s match-winning bowling performance.
Continually keeping the batsmen guessing was Dwaine Pretorius’ masterplan as he inspired the Proteas to a six-wicket and series-squaring victory in the second T20 against Pakistan in Lahore on Saturday.
The 31-year-old all-rounder’s influence was obvious as he ended with a record-breaking haul of 5/17, South Africa’s best in the international format and the first ever five-for against the hosts.
Key to his performance was his ability to mix it up as he intelligently used different lines and lengths along with shrewd changes of pace.
It was a daring plan given the magnitude of the match and executed magnificently.
“Making sure the batsmen didn’t know which ball is coming up next was key. It served us well. We didn’t overthink things, but it was also about not being predictable,” Pretorius said afterwards after eclipsing Ryan McLaren’s longstanding best figures of 5/19 back in 2010.
“Sometimes in T20, the simpler you keep it, the better. I’ve learnt from so many guys that have bowled here, like our bowling coach, Charl Langeveldt.”
He had previously revealed that much of his lockdown-dominated off-season was spent on the tricky technical change of not letting his front leg “collapse” when he delivers the ball – a difficult task when one’s done so for a long time – but wasn’t convinced this tweak was the main reason for his harvest of wickets.
“I don’t know if (the figures were) as a result of (technical change), but it was definitely quite hard to adapt. I’ve been working for five and six months trying to get one thing right and hopefully I can get as much out of my technique as possible within the next year,” he said.
“As a player, you always need to look for that 5% to 10% to improve on and I pride myself on that. I’ll keep working.”
Yet the perennially humble Pretorius was quick to point out that his success was down to a collective effort.
“I think it was just my day today, I’m very blessed and glad that I could contribute,” he said.
“We went back to the drawing board and devised a few plans as a bowling unit. We stuck to it well. The spinners were superb and the seamers did well too.”
He had a point to an extent as the pair of left-arm tweakers, Tabraiz Shamsi and Jon-Jon Smuts, did a fine job of suffocating the Pakistani batters, combining for figures of 1/36 in eight overs and playing an instrumental role in the hosts only scoring 50 runs in the nine-over period between the end of the powerplay and 15th over.
“There was some next-level bowling in that period,” said Pretorius.
“Anyone of them could’ve ended up with the wickets. It was a collective effort. Those two tied the noose so well that Pakistan simply couldn’t get going. Having two spinners (Stand-in skipper) Heinrich Klaasen captained well in that regard. The bowlers were mixed up well.”
For once, South Africa’s batsmen also managed to capitalise on the platform laid in the field.
“We’ve been playing a lot of good cricket in T20s. We’ve maybe been ‘losing’ one or two overs in matches really badly. We batted well against England, maybe struggled in one or so overs that ended up costing us,” said Pretorius.
“As a unit, we’ve been focusing on when the bad patch comes to not lose a cluster of wickets. The key is to keep the intent, that’s what we showed. Sometimes it’s not going to come off, but the intent was where. We learnt a lot.”
Sunday’s deciding contest starts at 15:00.