The South Africa ODI side pulled off a win over Pakistan in January but are they genuine contenders for the 2019 Cricket World Cup?

South Africa ODI Series against Pakistan

South Africa won the 5-match ODI Series against Pakistan 3-2, clinching the decider at Newlands.

In our South Africa ODI update, we’ll discuss what we learnt about their strengths and weaknesses from that Series as we count down to the 2019 Cricket World Cup.

 

The Positive: Reliable Top 4

 

With the exception of India with Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, no side who will be at the Cricket World Cup has had an established opening partnership for as long as Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock.

Amla notched a century and a fifty in those five games, scoring 214 runs in the process.  De Kock was rested for the first two games and scored 33 and 0 in his first two matches but saved his best for when it really mattered, scoring 83 to turn a tricky-looking run chase into a stroll. Either of these two could be in with a shout to be Top Batsman at the World cup.

 

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We know what an experienced head Faf du Plessis is at 4, with all of his 129 ODIs, 10 centuries and 31 fifties. With a career strike rate of 88.20, he’s no slouch either.

 

Rassie van Der Dussen was the big find of the series for South Africa.

 

But the big find of the Series was van der Dussen. Batting at three, only Ul-Haq scored more runs than him in the Series and he looked composed, relaxed, with a good array of shots and the ability to make the best of any bad balls. Not that any of this should come as a surprise; he’s 29 and has played almost 90 list A matches with eight tonnes to his name.

The South Africa ODI Top 4 looks one of the better ones at the World Cup.

 

The conundrum: Is Andile Phehlukwayo the answer?

 

If it’s to the question: is he the next Jacques Kallis? Then no.  There will never be another one like Kallis ever.

But if the question was: is he South-Africa’s best bet for the all-rounder position then, yes, quite possibly. He looks to have more about him than Chris Morris and Dwaine Pretorius, whereas this might be a World Cup too early for 20-year old Wiaan Mulder.

In five games Phehlukwayo took eight wickets, the most of players from either side and only two players bowled more overs. His unbeaten 69 was crucial in getting the Proteas over the line in Game 2 chasing a seemingly low but challenging total. He was also excellent with the ball in the 1st T20.

Is there room for both him and JP Duminy in the side? Yes, if Duminy bats at No 6 with the Top 4 mentioned above, David Miller at 5 and Phehlukwayo at 7.

 

Andile Phehlukwayo (left) is in pole position to be South Africa’s all-rounder at the World Cup.

 

 

At first glance there’s not much wrong with that line-up. Or is there?

SA will then need four front line bowlers with Phehlukwayo and Duminy normally sharing 10 overs between them. Fine. If Aiden Markram gate-crashes the top order then he can bowl a few himself, too. Even better.

But assuming they play Dale Steyn, Kasigo Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and a front-line spinner (see below), they’ll have to bat either Steyn or Rabada at eight. That’s at least one place too high for either of them.

 

The worry: Choker tag rearing its ugly head

 

Given they have the ‘chokers’ tag as far as World Cups go, the South Africa ODI team have to be careful about not giving away winning positions. They were hugely complacent in Game 2, allowing Number 10 Hasan Ali to smash 59 off 45 balls to get Pakistan past 200. And they threatened to make a real mess of the chase with all of Hendricks, Amla, du Plessis and Klassen dismissed for single figures. Van der Dussen and Phehlukwayo saved the day but it should never have come to that.

In Game 4 their numbers 6 to 11 got 22 runs between them as they posted just 164; it should have been at least 220.

Old habits die hard and this one is they need to eradicate if they’re going to have any chance in England.

 

The negative: Where’s the gun spinner?  

 

Whatever the conditions, you’re unlikely to win a tournament like the World Cup without a champion spinner. There always need to be someone taking crucial wickets in the middle overs to break a partnership or at least put some pressure on the batsmen by stopping the runs. Look no further than Shane Warne and that infamous semi-final at Edgbaston back in 1999. Without him on the field, SA would have won at a canter.

That is of course meant to be Imran Tahir. But Tahir will be 40 by the time the 2019 Cricket World Cup comes along and though be bowled better than his numbers suggest in that Pakistan series, two wickets from three matches and 30 overs isn’t a great return.

Tabraiz Shamsi was a bit better in terms of wickets with four from two games but far more expensive, going at almost seven an over.

Tahir will probably get the nod and that’s fair enough but there’s a danger we may not seem that famed celebration quite so often in England. And that could be disastrous for South Africa’s chances.

 

Betting Maestro verdict

South Africa are a best price of 8/1 (9.0) with Royal Panda. There will be some takers of that but this is far from being South Africa’s best ODI side. It may have been a little different if AB de Villiers had chosen to play on, but he hasn’t.

With a few question marks scattered around almost all elements of the side, they can’t be recommended at that price, with a semi-final spot probably an achievement in itself.

 

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