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South Africa selectors have picked a squad that is heavy on pacers, which will be supported by a strong top-order © Getty Images

South Africa have announced their squad for the upcoming ICC World Cup 2015, with AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla designated as the captain and the vice-captain of the team respectively. The striking feature about the squad is the presence of several world-class fast bowlers. Amit Banerjee explores the chances of the squad in the biggest event in the cricketing world.

South Africa became the latest team to announce their World Cup squad, with Cricket South Africa (CSA) completing the formalities in a press announcement at Cape Town on January 7. South Africa enjoyed a successful run in One-Day Internationals (ODI) in the year of 2014, winning all the tournaments barring the 1-4 series loss to Australia in November 2014. With the World Cup knocking at the doors now, the South Africa selectors have picked a squad that is heavy on pacers, which will be supported by a strong top-order.

The selectors decided to gamble with wicket-keeper batsman Quinton de Kock, who is currently nursing an ankle injury and is expected to miss the two games for South Africa —against Zimbabwe and India. The team will be praying for his quick recovery, as he has proved to be a formidable opener along with Hashim Amla. Should he fail to recover from his injury, de Villiers would be burdened with wicket-keeping duties, although he is skilled in that department as well.

The top-order is a strong one comprising of Amla, de Villiers, de Kock (subject to fitness) and Faf du Plessis, all of whom are accomplished across the formats. Du Plessis, in particular, was brilliant during the recent triangular series in Zimbabwe, where he scored two consecutive centuries and a half-century. The pair of Amla and de Villiers has turned out to be one of the most successful pairs in South Africa history, and the two will be expected to milk a plenty of runs Down Under.

The South African middle-order contains names such as Rilee Rossouw, Farhaan Behardien, JP Duminy and David Miller. Rossouw, made his ODI debut in August last year, has not been able to make his career statistics reflect his talent, having scored a solitary half-century so far. Miller and Behardien possess a strike rate that is close to 100, and as such will be considered from the angle of getting quick runs for the team towards the closing stages. Duminy has not had a great run in the recent past, but his worth as a middle-order batsman as well as a useful part-time spinner will come in handy during the tournament.

In the bowling departement, the Proteas have not included many specialist spinners, with Imran Tahir and Aaron Phangiso making the cut. Although the pitches in Australia and New Zealand does not require a spinner to take the centre stage, Tahir’s skill and cleverness should fulfill all requirements should such an occasion arise.

The biggest strength that the Proteas will be carrying to Australia and New Zealand is their pace-attack. The trio of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander have been wreaking havoc on world batsmen for quite some time now, and will feast on the pitches in the host countries. On their day, the three can reduce any batting order in the world to ashes. Wayne Parnell, who has been a useful bowler in the death stages, will face competition from Kyle Abbott for the spot of the fourth bowler in the side.

One of the biggest names to not feature in the final 15 is Ryan McLaren, who has been one of the most promising all-rounders to have been discovered by the Proteas in recent times. The absence of a proper all-rounder in the current squad might hurt the South Africa a bit, who have often made them proud in the past. Jacques Kallis and Lance Klusener are two of many names that come to mind

Overall, South Africa have a great unit prepared for the mega-event, and should face little difficulty in progressing through the stages if they click as a team. What they have to work on is their mental state, especially during the knockout stages of the tournament. In the absence of a mental conditioning coach, it will be upto the Proteas to inspire each other.

South Africa squad for 2015 World Cup: AB de Villiers (c), Hashim Amla, Kyle Abbott, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wk), JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Vernon Philander, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn.

(Amit Banerjee, a reporter at CricketCountry, takes keen interest in photography, travelling, technology, automobiles, food and, of course, cricket. He can be followed on Twitter via his handle @akb287)