Rookie pacer Junior Dala admitted that the South African bowling unit’s execution in the first T20 International against India wasn’t up to the mark and it needs to be “more proactive rather than being reactive” in the second game, here on Wednesday.

India won the first T20 international match in Johannesburg by 28 runs and took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. India had made a rousing start in that game and score 78 runs in the powerplay overs taking advantage of South Africa’s short-ball strategy. Dala said that the plan was right but they need to execute it better.

“With any game plan, if you don’t execute well, it always looks bad. As bowlers we were honest with each other, we had a sort of game plan. It boils down to execution. Definitely, we are going to go in with another game plan (in the second game). But I think we need to be a little bit more proactive. We have a game plan but be more proactive to it as opposed to being reactive,” Dala said during the pre-match conference on Tuesday.

“When you play T20 cricket, you have to assess the wicket early on. We sort of had a game plan and we all stuck to it. The Indians also saw us bowl. So in hindsight, they saw what we did and how the wicket was and could adjust. We backed our game plan, whether it was wrong or right. It is something we truly believed it. If they were four down, we wouldn’t be talking about it,” he added.

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India finished with 203/5 after looking good for 220 at one point. Dala said that South Africa pulled things back in the death overs and need to change its plans accordingly in the initial stages as well.

“I think someone like Dane Patterson bowled brilliantly at the death and Chris Morris as well. If we bring the run rate down outside Powerplay between 7 and 11, we take a lot of confidence from the fact that India looked like they’d score 240, but we restricted them to 200. We take a lot of confidence to chase that score on that wicket,” said Dala.

“That (changing of bowling plans) is something the coaching staff has to decide. At the end of the day, whether Patterson or I open (the bowling), if JP (Duminy) has faith and confidence in us that’s all we sort of need. We just need to be a lot more proactive. In the first three overs, if there are a lot of cut balls or pull balls, maybe we change it a lot sooner,” he added.

When asked how tough or easy it is to change game plans in the heat of moment, the pacer replied, “Possibly not that tough. (But) in T20 cricket, it is so difficult to convey a message or communicate. It is something we can improve on. We are a young side and we can get caught up with the moment. I know I am harping about the gameplan, just improve on and execute that gameplan, that’s all I can say about it. From outside it may have looked poor but execution is what stands out and not necessarily the game plan.”

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South Africa also dropped three catches in that first game. Overall, it has been lagging behind the Men in Blue with not only bat or ball, but also in this third aspect during this limited-overs’ leg of the tour.

Dala is amongst a clutch of new faces that have cropped up for South Africa in this ODI and T20I series. He made his debut at Wanderers and managed to dismiss both Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan. He lamented not hearing a nick off Dhawan earlier as the left-hander went on to score a crucial half-century.

“I was a bit nervous. I don’t bowl in Powerplay even for Titans. So to open the bowling, I was just glad I could control the ball. Maybe, there was too much adrenaline. But overall I could have done a bit better. I am pleased that I got a few wickets also, so the debut was not too bad,” Dala said.

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“I watched the highlights. The way Shikhar played that pull shot, my sight was blinded, so when the umpire called it wide I sort of went with it. I couldn’t see the ball from where I delivered. In hindsight, had I appealed it would have been a different story, they would have been 40 or 50 for three and under a lot of pressure. For Rohit’s dismissal, there was a lot of adrenaline. It was very noisy. I didn’t hear that. Thankfully Klassy (Heindrich Klaasen) behind the stumps was alert to that,” he added.

A threat of rain looms over the second T20I on Wednesday. However, South Africa will be hoping to do the job on field and take the series to the decider on Saturday.

“I think India played very good cricket. Had we bowled the way we did, could we be having the same conversation? I think we were not too far away on Sunday. We can turn this around. If we win tomorrow and on Saturday, everyone will say, it was a good tour for South Africa. We won the tour 2-1,” he signed off.