Not leaving Sri Lanka with negatives: JP Duminy
JP Duminy believes South Africa have made huge strides in ODIs (Getty Images)

South Africa may have begun the tour of Sri Lanka with a 0-2 loss in the Test series, but captain in their T20I format, JP Duminy, is impressed by the side’s turnaround in the limited-overs leg. Following big defeats in Galle and Colombo, South Africa won the ODI series 3-2, before coming up short in the one-off T20I that saw them getting bowled out for 98.

Their struggle against spin has been well-documented in sub-continent pitches, and the same was evident at Colombo on Tuesday, where the trio of Dhananjaya de Silva, Lakshan Sandakan and Akila Dhananjaya combined to take seven South African wickets. Despite that, South Africa gave Sri Lanka a fight, but a target of 99 was just not enough and they got home by three wickets.

“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.”

Barring the fact that their batting did not quite live up, South Africa’s biggest gain from the series remains the emergence of spinners Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi. Shamsi began the tour picking up 5/45 against Sri Lanka Board President XI and followed it with an impressive 3/91 in the first Test at Galle. He grew once the limited-overs leg arrived, taking 4/33 in South Africa’s five-wicket win in the 1st ODI. His partner Maharaj didn’t have the best of the ODIs, but recorded the second-best figures by a South African bowler in Tests with taking 9/129 in the second Test.

“Tabraiz is an exciting prospect for South African cricket and he’s a wicket-taker,” Duminy mentioned. “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.”