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South Africa’s performance in knockouts has been nothing less than disappointing. Here they are once again traveling to Bangladesh for the ICC World T20 2014 with a strong side aiming to shrug off the ‘chokers’ tag. Bharath Ramaraj analyses the squad.
Ever since South Africa was welcomed back by the cricket community, they have struggled to give finishing touches to all the hard work done during the initial phase of a World event. It has resulted in them being given the chokers tag. The current bunch of South African cricketers can’t go back in time and change all that has happened. However, they can give an eloquent riposte to their critics by winning the ICC World T20 2014 and put the chokers tag to the bed.
It won’t be an easy task for South Africa to climb up the ladder and win the coveted trophy, as they have a relatively inexperienced unit, especially when it comes to playing in the sub-continental conditions.
South Africa will heavily depend on their dynamic duo of AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla to score the bulk of the runs; both can enter those rarefied zones of batting. In particular, De Villiers with what seems like preternatural hand-eye co-ordination can play shots all around the ground. Remember, he is a fine wicketkeeper too.
Faf du Plessis has won recognition and fame for his tenacity and fortitude in the Test arena. Curiously though, for a player with a wide range of strokes his records in the shorter formats of the game aren’t outstanding. If we go back in time, it was in the shortest format of the game that he made his name while playing for Lancashire on rather tricky tracks for batting. JP Duminy and David Miller are also in the squad. Duminy is renowned as a good finisher and a decent off-spinner in his own right as well. Miller, the big hitting middle-order batsman can be an asset to the side in Bangladesh. On slow tracks, playing in the V is the best option and all those bazooka shots from Miller’s rapier-like blade usually are essayed down the ground.
Quinton de Kock is the player to watch out for in the batting line-up. The wicketkeeper-batsman can play eye-catching shots. However, his tendency to play on the up can act as a hurdle on slow and low tracks of Bangladesh.
Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn will spearhead South Africa’s pace department. If Morne is expected to generate variable bounce out of Bangladesh tracks then South African think-tank will look up to Steyn to bowl at full tilt and pitch it up to the batsmen. He is a fine exponent of reverse swing too, but it is hard to envisage the ball reversing in a 20-over game.
Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Wayne Parnell are the back-up seamers in the bowling line-up. Both are left-armers and that can come in handy in the shorter formats of the game. Right-handed batsmen have to change their strategy and thought process while facing left-arm over the wicket pacers.
Aaron Phangiso and Imran Tahir are the two spinners in the side. Phangiso is a tidy slow left-arm bowler. Tahir can bowl long hops every now and then, but has a well-disguised googly that can skid off the surface. it can help him while bowling in Bangladesh, especially with dew around.
Morne Morkel’s elder brother and all-rounder, Albie doesn’t seem to be the player that he once was. However, he too finds a place in the squad as does the Cape Cobras left arm medium-pacer, Beuran Hendricks.
South Africa aren’t counted as one of the favourites to go all the way and win ICC World T20 2014. But slipping under the radar may just help the Rainbow Nation to perform, as there won’t be too much pressure on them.
Faf du Plessis (c), AB De Villiers (wk), Quinton de Kock (wk), Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Beuran Hendricks, Aaron Phangiso, Imran Tahir, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Farhaan Behardien, JP Duminy, David Miller, Wayne Parnell.
(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)
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