The Newsroom previews the teams of the 2015 Cricket World Cup. Today, South Africa.
Pool B: India, Ireland, Pakistan, South Africa, West Indies, UAE, Zimbabwe
Since the end of 2011 World Cup, there have been some major changes in South Africa cricket. Players like Mark Boucher, Jacques Kallis, and Graeme Smith have all retired from international cricket. Coach Gary Kirsten stepped down and Russell Domingo took over – and AB de Villiers lost more hair! Any other team would have been in big trouble with such changes (excluding the hair loss), but South Africa did not. You can say they have become stronger. They are currently the number one team in test and number three in one-day internationals.
Arguably, they have the most destructive bowling attack in the tournament. Their top six batsmen are in supreme touch. And their fielding standard will get top marks from any cricket guru.
The only thing you can say against them is their World Cup history. Since 1992, South Africa have progressed past to the knockout stages five times in the World Cup, played two quarter finals and three semi finals. Still they are yet to get the taste of being world champions. They fell below expectations in almost every World Cup they played. This time they are eager to change the stats and with in one month we will see if they can change their fortune or not.
The team: One of the strong batting line-ups of the tournament. Both openers Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock are in ominous form. JP Duminy and Faf du Plessis will back the team up as they are the players South Africa will be looking on if they are in any sorts of trouble. They have kept David Miller at the end of the batting order to speed up the scoreboard. Whether they are batting first or chasing, you can always bet your money on this batting squad.
Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel will open the bowling for the team. This duo can destroy any batting line up of the world with accurate pace and sheer bouncer. Vernon Philander will be handful in the middle overs. Leg spinner Imran Tahir’s recent performance in the limited overs makes him one of the key players in the side. So whether they are defending a small target or chasing a big one, you can always bet your money on them.
Player to watch: He has just broken the record of fastest one-day international century. AB de Villiers can bat at any position you want him to and can handle any situation. He can score quick runs. He can slow down the game if the team needs him to do so. He has been ranked as the number one ODI batsman for past five years and his captaincy did not affect his batting at all. So we may see some genuine captain’s knock from him in the upcoming tournament.
Prediction: I can see South Africa passing the group stage easily. And with this team, they should be able to play the semi as well. And if they don’t choke under pressure, we might see a new world champion. If they don’t choke. – Md Zahin