Lhuan-dre Pretorious idolises Quinton de Kock. Once you see him play a pull shot, you’ll know exactly why.
The low hands in his batting stance rise in unison when they see a ball pitched short. The bat face is already horizontal and ready to impart as much power as possible.
Then comes the bat at not-a-very-high speed, but enough brute power is imparted in the wood from his strong shoulders and torso.
The small boundaries at Benoni have no chance. The ball just accepts its destiny and settles in the stands.
Such a display of power and hitting at the Under 19 level is rare. Male bodies are still developing during their late teenage years, and batters find their ultimate power range only after a few years. Exceptions are there, of course. Like Sarfaraz Khan, who bludgeoned the ball with ease during the 2014 and 2016 U19 World Cups.
Lhuan-dre Pretorious is a batter of the same ilk, but with a lot of maturity and composure to bat long already instilled in him. It was clearly visible during the first semifinal between India and South Africa.
After dispatching the wayward deliveries (there weren’t a lot, though) from the Indian pacers Raj Limbani and Naman Tiwari, he had to apply the breaks and down his gear as South Africa had already lost two wickets in the first ten overs. The Proteas middle order had collapsed on several occasions in the tournament, hence bringing the responsibility of carrying the innings forward on the top order.
The Indian left-arm spinners Saumy Pandey, Musheer Khan and offie Murugan Abhishek applied the choke on runs after the power play as they have done throughout the tournament, and as was expected, the Proteas batters failed to rotate the strike against them.
Pretorious batted in a sedate fashion during the phase, with the run rate hovering around 4.5 runs/over. However, the dot ball pressure was piling up, and Richard Seletswane at the other end wasn’t helping by eating up dot balls like munchies.
In fact, between overs 20 to 24, only three runs were scored. Indian keeper Avanish Aravelly counted every dot ball loudly in English, ensuring Pretorious knew exactly how many consecutive dot balls had been bowled.
That’s when Pretorious got fed up and decided enough was enough. He scored a four against Musheer in the 25th over and then smashed off-spinner Priyanshu Moliya for a flat six over mid-wicket on the first ball of the 26th.
Throughout the innings, he played the spinners comfortably, playing his sweeps with ease. In fact, Pretorius seemed quite prolific in the square on both sides of the wicket. His cut shots against the pacers, especially, were quite remarkable.
Today, his 76 off 102 came against a bowling attack that hasn’t allowed batters to score against them after the field restrictions are lifted. No team has crossed 200 against India in this U19 World Cup. But his 76 and Seltswane’s 65 have allowed the Proteas to post a very competitive 244/7 against India in the knockouts, who are yet to bat second in this tournament.
With 287 runs in six innings at an average of 71.75 and a strike rate of 94.1 in this U19 World Cup, Lhuan-Dre Pretorious has shown that he’s a very good batter. He has the power, he has the spin game, and above all he has the secondary skill of keeping to further his selection chances. He already was attached with the Paarl Royals in the SA20 on a rookie contract, and at 17 years of age, has an average of 43.5 in List A cricket.
Look out for him from here on, dear readers. And learn to pronounce his name (Lhuan is pronounced as ‘wan’) just like you learned Anrich Nortje’s because you are going to take his name a lot in the upcoming years.
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