The World Cup Chronicles: South Africa staring at anti-climax




Things have not panned out for South Africa in the 2015 ICC World Cup as they would have hoped. After starting off on a winning note against Zimbabwe in the opening fixture, the Proteas crashed to a 130-run defeat against India and will now face West Indies with several problems at hand. Like cricket pundit Harsha Bhogle said, South Africa have always been “pampered” so much by Jacques Kallis that they did not realise how conspicuous his absence will be. Vernon Philander’s injury and Wayne Parnell’s indifferent form have made things difficult for Gary Kirsten and his think tank. The Windies cannot be taken lightly and any sort of slip-up against them could prove to be fatal for the Proteas.

ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: South Africa vs West Indies at Sydney

ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: South Africa vs West Indies at Sydney

Though it would be immature and juvenile to say that South Africa’s chances of qualifying for the quarter-finals look bleak, it certainly a plausible scenario. The West Indies, like the stock market, are unpredictable and while you would not bet on them to beat South Africa, a Proteas win is hardly a guarantee. Unlike most teams, the Proteas do not know their final XI yet with the confusion of Wayne Parnell, Farhaan Behardien and Rilee Rossouw still bothering them. Persisting with Parnell would mean betting on a loose cannon, which might or might not fire while playing Rossouw would certainly diminish bowling options.

Not having Philander against West Indies could be a huge problem as Chris Gayle, fresh from a double hundred against Zimbabwe, would relish an attack without an out-and-out swing bowler. Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel make for a formidable duo but both are yet to hit their respective strides in the World Cup. In all likelihood, South Africa are likely to stick with the same team and replace Philander with Rossouw, meaning JP Duminy will have to bowl his full quota of 10 overs. Another scenario would see Kyle Abbott play in place of Philander and Parnell being replaced by Behardien or Rossouw.

Should South Africa lose to West Indies, it will throw Group B wide open, granting opportunities to both Ireland and Pakistan to fight for a quarter-final spot. Surprisingly, only Ireland and India are the unbeaten teams in Group B at the moment and the former cannot be taken for granted. The power of these fringe teams has forced everyone to question the surety of anything in the tournament and South Africa need to be aware of the same.

To put things in a nutshell, the Proteas will have to play their best cricket to ensure a top two finish in Group B and avoid New Zealand or Australia in the quarter-finals. In case that fails to happen, the critics will be flexing their muscles to write yet another “chokers” obituary.

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