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“Rassie van der Dussen was perhaps the sole or one of the few silver linings for the Proteas in what can be termed as their worst World Cup ever. He may well be the heart of South Africa’s middle-order in the years to come”

It was in January earlier this year that Rassie van der Dussen made his ODI debut. He had played a couple of T20Is in October and also scored a half-century on debut against Zimbabwe. He was pretty experienced having played domestic cricket for a decade.

However, the shortest format was the least of South Africa’s concerns. They were still looking to fill the big hole AB de Villiers left in that middle-order. South Africa did have a few options and they could go back to the experienced ones. The likes of David Miller and JP Duminy were already there and they had the option of going back to the likes of Farhaan Behardien, Henrich Klaasen among others. There were a couple of others like Christiaan Jonker and Khaya Zondo that got opportunities but they didn’t make it count.

Also read: Alex Carey continues to be Australia’s unsung hero

Thus, they decided to throw van der Dussen in. The right-handed Pretoria-born batsman was having a great summer. He made his international debut in a T20I against Zimbabwe and scored a fifty. He finished as the leading run-getter (469 runs in 11 innings at an average of 58.62) in the Mzansi Super League (MSL) and helped his team lift the title.

Thus, van der Dussen was in good form. However, we have seen multiple times that international cricket can be a different kettle of fish and it’s not easy transitioning between domestic and international cricket. However, van der Dussen transitioned beautifully. There were hardly any nerves on debut as he stroked a wonderful 93 and missed out on a well-deserved hundred on debut.

Since then, he hasn’t looked back. He has played just three series/tournaments so far in his short career, including this 2019 World Cup and he has managed to average at least 50 in each one of them. Yes, his strike-rate has been a tad on the lower side but he’s provided that assurance in the middle.

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He may not exactly have the same power game like a Miller or cheekiness of AB de Villiers or the astuteness of Faf du Plessis, but he can be mighty effective and he has shown that throughout the course of his short international career.

The 30-year-old is the third highest run-getter for South Africa this year (2019). He has amassed 664 runs at an average of 73.78, out of which 311 runs have come in this 2019 World Cup. He has been one of South Africa’s shining lights in a rather disappointing campaign.

Right from the first game in this World Cup, van der Dussen was switched on. In no game did he score less than 22. He scored a fifty on World Cup debut as along with Quinton de Kock, he led the charge for South Africa’s chase of 311 in the World Cup opener. However, Dussen scored a fifty but couldn’t build on as wickets fell around him and he fell trying to up the ante. In another chase against Bangladesh, he was once again at the forefront and it was his wicket (after scoring 41 off 38 balls) that triggered the downfall.

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His best was yet to come though. After a couple of decent outings, he failed against India, scoring just 22. However, on a tricky and a slow pitch at Edgbaston, he was the one anchoring the innings and propelled the Proteas to a fighting total of 241. However, he saved his best for the last.

It was a dead rubber and there wasn’t a lot out of it for South Africa in what was the final group stage game of the World Cup. However, skipper Faf du Plessis took on the Aussie challenge head on and led South Africa’s early charge. However, he needed someone to stay with him. Rassie van der Dussen played the perfect second fiddle.

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However, his knock didn’t come easy. He struggled quite a bit at the start. He was 10 off 30 deliveries before he opened up and became a lot more fluent. He brought up fifty off 69 balls and du Plessis was still batting at the other end and was close to a ton. However, once the South African skipper got to his hundred and got out, van der Dussen took over the responsibility of upping the scoring rate. He batted really well towards the end as he scored 45 runs off his last 28 balls. He fell agonisingly short of his maiden ODI ton. He was visibly heartbroken but he had done the job. He got South Africa to a strong 325.

Hence, every game he batted, the situation was tough and he didn’t even bat against the relatively weaker bowling attacks in this competition. Hence, van der Dussen was the glue in that middle order for South Africa. He finished as South Africa’s second highest run-scorer in this World Cup, behind du Plessis.

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After South Africa’s horrid start to this World Cup, the news broke out about AB de Villiers wanting to play the World Cup and van der Dussen’s place was a threat. However, South Africa’s selectors stuck to their team and didn’t budge to de Villiers’ last-minute availability.

Van der Dussen showed the way for South Africa in this World Cup. South Africa’s struggles have meant that his performances have slipped under the radar. Yes, at times, there are questions about his strike-rate and his ability to up the ante. However, that’s a debate for another day.

Rassie van der Dussen was perhaps the sole or one of the few silver linings for the Proteas in what can be termed as their worst World Cup ever. He may well be the heart of South Africa’s middle-order in the years to come.

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