It’s the South Africa v India cricket ODI on Wednesday and for the Proteas, this might already be last-chance saloon.

By Pieter Swanepoel. 

 

South Africa up against it early on

With the Proteas playing India tomorrow, the obvious question is: how do they get themselves out of the mess of losing two matches at the CWC 2019?

Former Springbok coach Kitch Christie often spoke about the high road and low road in the build-up to the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

Beat your opponent in the opening game and your team will have the comfort of the high road for the remainder of the tournament . Lose and all sorts of challenges will lie ahead.

During the opening match at The Oval, the Proteas’ path to the 2019 World Cup nose-dived.

The loss against hosts England was half expected but losing to Bangladesh was a train smash.

South Africa’s next two matches are against powerhouse India and a rejuvenated West Indies team. Both these matches are now of critical importance if Faf du Plessis’ men aim to be more than just tourists in the United Kingdom.

That South Africa are 2.7 with Betfair Sportsbook to beat India gives a good indication of how steep their task is.

 

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They will certainly need to raise their game, particularly in the field, if they wish to remain an interested participant. Odds of [5.4] on the Betfair Exchange that they make the semi-finals  tell their own story.

 

Injuries starting to take their toll

Against Bangladesh, South Africa was simply listless for the first half of the match, after Proteas captain du Plessis won his second toss in a row.

The loss of Lungi Ngidi to a hamstring strain certainly didn’t help the proceedings, but the Tigers had already taken a firm grip on the match by then.

With Ngidi now joining Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn on the sidelines, South Africa’s injury list is growing rapidly. It certainly does not look very promising for the Proteas, as they moved to the coastal town of Southampton.

The only consolation for the Proteas is that they also lost to Bangladesh in the 2007 World Cup, but still managed to progress to the semi-finals.

These are the threads of hope du Plessis and his team are now hanging on by.

 

Rabada needs to justify his reputation

 

If there is someone who could benefit from an arm around the shoulder, instead of a rollicking right now, it’s Kagiso Rabada.

Thus far in the CWC 2019, South Africa’s spearhead has been a shadow of the seam bowler who has terrorised batting line-ups all around the world over the past two years.

The exertions of the Indian Premier League, where Rabada was the leading wicket-taker, until teammate Imran Tahir pipped him at the post, may be taking its toll on the 24-year-old. The Proteas desperately need their talisman firing on all cylinders, especially with the juggernaut Indian batting line-up awaiting them in Southampton.

Rabada by the way, is a best price of 4.0 with Royal Panda to be South Africa’s top wicket-taker against India. With Ngidi ruled out for at least this match, Styen on his way home and the all-rounders Chris Morris and Dwayne Pretorius rarely huge threats with the ball, KG may not have much to beat.

 

 

Andile Phehlukwayo, who is 6.0 with Royal Panda to be SA’s top wicket-taker, has bowled pretty well and picked up three wickets but let’s remember he rarely bowls his full  quota of 10 overs. So that just leaves Tahir. The evergreen leg-spinner is currently the leading bowler with four wickets and goes in as the 3.75 favourite but his this is a pitch better suited to pace bowling.

 

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What’s gone wrong?

 

Much has been made of South Africa’s preparation – or lack of it – for the World Cup as potential reasons for the two lacklustre displays.

Key members of the Proteas’ World Cup squad were still involved at the Indian Premier League until a very late stage, unlike other World Cup teams that called back their IPL participants early to prepare.

Equally, South Africa had not played any official ODI series since March and only a couple of warm-up games – one abandoned due to rain – before the opening game against England.

Although the opening day against England contained a few pleasant surprise including the three wickets of Ngidi and a mature innings of 50 from the bat of Rassie van der Dussen, everything ultimately played out to script.

The world’s No 1 team confirmed their status as pre-tournament favourites. South Africa, in contrast, remain a team searching for its best combinations and has become just one of the outsiders looking in.

However, to be fair to the Proteas last Thursday’s defeat by 104 runs, was not as entirely one-sided as the scoreboard reflects. There were periods where the capacity Oval crowd that had come out expecting an England victory were visibly apprehensive.

The visitors’ dressing-room would certainly have been quietly confident at the lunch interval. South Africa has done well to restrict the hosts to 311/8 through some disciplined bowling, excellent catching and innovative tactics from captain Faf du Plessis.

There were questions leading up to the World Cup that England’s bowling may be their weakest link, but with Jofra Archer now charging in the light blue, it has been transformed into a strength.

In the context of the length of the tournament, du Plessis and coach Ottis Gibson did stress that defeat in the opening game would not be the end of the world. And it certainly isn’t with van der Dussen and de Kock providing some positives.

 

South Africa v India Cricket: De Kock needs to step up

 

Nobody in South Africa will utter it out loud, but South Africa’s chances, particularly the batting unit, at the CWC 2019, rests squarely on Quinton de Kock’s shoulders.

De Kock is the one Proteas willow-wielder, who would have a bowler standing at the top of his mark, questioning his personal worth.

This is the guy who quit high school, in order to pursue the most fickle of careers, that of being a professional sportsman. The same guy who taunts people – admittedly justified because it was David Warner – to the extent that virtual physical confrontation broke out on a staircase.

What the Proteas need at this point in time is perhaps for de Kock to put on his superhero cape.

De Kock is 3.75 with Betfair Sportsbook to be their top batsman against in the South Africa v India cricket match tomorrow and is 2.5 to score a 50.

 

 

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