- Janneman Malan, Kyle Verreynne and Keshav Maharaj made some huge gains despite playing in only one game against Pakistan.
- Heinrich Klaasen and Aiden Markram didn't make the best of their opportunities in their competitive positions.
- Tabraiz Shamsi may remain SA's best T20 spinner, but Maharaj left some uncomfortable questions for him.
Losing a series may come with the necessary post-mortems, but there are also positives that must be taken out from defeats.
South Africa were always going to struggle in the third ODI against Pakistan after losing five key players to the Indian Premier League and it showed.
It was not all doom and gloom though as bigger squads for International Cricket Council tournaments means fringe players can ask the necessary selection questions knowing they will make the squad cut.
Last week, the International Cricket Council announced that squads can be increased to 22 for tournaments, an increase of seven from the pre-Covid-19 15-man limit.
An increased squad means out-of-form incumbents can and will be dropped if fringe players are kicking the door down.
That said, here are three big movers and big losers from South Africa's ODI series defeat to Pakistan.
It's not about how Kyle Verreynne scores his runs, not that they're not pretty, but when he scores his runs they seem to matter. His ODI career is only four games old, but each of his essays have come with South Africa being in a spot of bother. With Quinton de Kock showing little signs of keeping stress, Verreynne is free to roam the field and wait his turn with the gloves. Having delivered for an underperforming franchise in the Cape Cobras, he's stepped up with the goods with the national team. He needs to be persisted with.
Janneman Malan was an unfair victim of the Aiden Markram ODI experiment, and he showed why he should have at least played in all three games with his controlled 70 at the top of the order. There is a clarity to Malan's ODI game that's lacking in Markram. He seems to know what to do, when to do it and how to do it. In his young ODI career, he's relished the thrill of a chase. With SA's known chasing jitters, he could be a very handy iceman at ICC tournaments. He has to be entrusted with a long-term opening ODI slot.
When Keshav Maharaj talks about his goals, he has to be taken seriously. Like the above two, he only had one game to show his wares and the value of his excellence underscored why he may need to be trusted with the spin bowling slot. India, for example, have tried several spinners in Ravindra Jadeja's injury-enforced absence, but he remains crucial to their plans. Maharaj is SA's number one Test spinner but having performed for the Dolphins in white ball cricket, he stepped up seamlessly in the same format for the national team.
Heinrich Klaasen isn't badly out of form. The Australia ODI series was last year and he was towering there with a ton and two 50s. One, 11 and four does represent a poor return, especially with Verreynne doing more in one game than he did in three. Coupled with the fact he didn't quite shoot the lights off in the three T20s against Pakistan earlier in the year, Klaasen and to an extent coach Mark Boucher may have difficulty explaining why Klaasen must play ahead of Verreynne. Experience may be a factor, but it can't under any circumstances be used as a crutch to keep a performing younger player out of the team.
That Aiden Markram is batting well isn't an issue, but his inability to get past 45 as often as he would like is the bigger problem in ODI cricket. Markram's class is not in doubt, alongside the fact he can score quickly. But there are others like Malan and Markram needs to identify and sort out his while ball problems quickly. He'll still be persisted with, but ideally it should be in a position where he is competing with Klaasen, who may also have his hands full with Verreynne.
It could have been Andile Phehlukwayo, whose death bowling has an element of predictability with his tactics and how he's been used, but Shamsi's had the most to lose from Maharaj's excellence. There's not much wrong that Shamsi did in the first two ODIs, especially in the face of Fakhar Zaman's withering assault in the second. That he remains a potent attacking threat in white ball cricket isn't in doubt, but international cricket doesn't have space for two left-arm spinners, even if they're of differing values. There's also George Linde hovering in the wings and with Maharaj and Linde being vastly better batsmen, Shamsi needed a bigger and better showing in the 50-over series. He still remains the premier T20 spinner.