Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent
Rassie van der Dussen is expecting easier conditions for batters during South Africa's three-match ODI series against Ireland compared to what the side experienced in the West Indies. After finding the going fairly tough on slow, spinner-friendly surfaces in the Caribbean, van der Dussen, who played club cricket in Belfast six years ago, thinks runs could more freely in Ireland.
"When the sun is out here and the wicket gets quite hard, it becomes favourable for batting," van der Dussen said. "If there is a little bit of rain around in the preceding days and on the day, the ball swings and the grass livens up and the seam movement becomes a factor. But this time of year, the weather should be okay. The conditions will be good for batting, a lot more batter-conducive than we had in the West Indies."
Though there is some rain forecast for Dublin over the weekend and early next week, the Irish Examiner reported lower than normal rainfall and warm weather will characterise the summer, which should support van der Dussen's theory. That means South Africa will see an opportunity to improve on their scoring rate, especially towards the end of an innings, where they found themselves tied down during the T20I series in the West Indies. van der Dussen hopes they can use the longer version of the white-ball game to rediscover their run-scoring potential in the death overs.
"In the last five overs, in all the matches [in the West Indies], we came up short," he said. "The conditions were really tough to bat, especially for new batters coming in. In 50-over cricket, you get time in the middle, which sometimes in T20 cricket you don't get, especially batting in middle to lower order. In 50-over cricket, you've got a bigger scope to identify where your game is at and you've got time to get yourself in and play your game from there. That can help for T20 cricket as well because it gives the batters a reference for where their games are at."
Apart from van der Dussen, David Miller is another middle-order batter who will like the prospect of facing more deliveries, and regaining form, after he had limited opportunity to do so in the West Indies. Whether some of the benchwarmers like Kyle Verreynne and Janneman Malan will get a chance to play in this series is not yet known, especially with the ODIs being part of the World Cup Super League. South Africa are currently at bottom of the points table with one from three games.
"With the new competition structure, every game becomes important," van der Dussen said. "Eoin Morgan said there is no such thing as a dead rubber because you get points from every game and that's the qualification [route] for the World Cup. We've been away from home for five weeks and some guys haven't had playing chances but for a coach and a selector, the priority is to win matches and you've got to pick your strongest team."
And van der Dussen also thinks Ireland are a strong enough side for South Africa to want to do nothing less. "I played club cricket here six years ago and to see where they've come from as a team compared to where they are now is really exciting. This is a massive series for them and they are going to throw everything they have at us. For us, it's a challenge to firstly adapt to foreign conditions and then find ways to win games. We are really looking forward to the challenge."