World Cup 2019: Hoping to stay alive, desperate South Africa seek resurgence against West Indies
Faf du Plessis trains at the Ageas Bowl on Sunday. (AFP Image)

SOUTHAMPTON: South Africa might be running on thin ice but their mood in the ground doesn’t depict it. By the looks of it, that they are one more loss away from virtually having their World Cup campaign cut short seems to be an afterthought. At the Ageas Bowl on Sunday, ahead of their contest against the West Indies, South Africa looked nothing like a team to have started with three losses. Instead, they remain cheerful, with players being spotted laughing in the hallway, followed by a light session of football.

It however doesn’t erase the fact that South Africa are living on the edge. Simply out, they aren’t anymore reflective of a side which hasn’t lost an ODI series in the last 12 months. The batting remains concerning and there is no clarity about Lungi Ngidi’s fitness, even though he did bowl in the nets. Against India’s Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, they looked clueless, while faring slightly better against the pacers. That they got four Indian wickets and troubled them openers early shaped as a positive, but there remain other aspects which need monitoring.

Their opponents, West Indies haven’t done too bad for themselves, with their pacers, bundling Pakistan out for 105 and later shredding Australia’s top order to have them at 38 for 4. But from there they lost steam, indicating that West Indies, despite brimming with promise, continue to seek the killer blow. Oshane Thomas has been quite the find, and Jason Holder rarely disappoints. It’s the likes of Carlos Brathwaite and Shimron Hetmyer, who need to improve upon their consistency, and hence it wasn’t surprising to see both receiving a hit-out in the nets on Sunday.

Speaking of which, it was a session was one which had no signs of Andre Russell after the allrounder was seen favouring his knee against Australia at Trent Bridge. But assistant coach Roddy Estwick confirmed that he would be available for the game.

What works for the West Indies is that their fielding and catching has been pretty polished. They haven’t committed too many errors as yet in the World Cup and they’d want it to continue and shouldn’t mid ticking a few more boxes along the way. The last time these two sides met was three years ago, during a tri-series in the Caribbean. West Indies are an exciting team to watch because you know that if they come together, no one is safe, especially a precariously-placed South Africa.

What: South Africa vs West Indies, Match 15

When: June 10, 2019 (Monday)

Venue: The Ageas Bowl, Southampton

Time: 330 PM IST

Weather: With a few showers expected during the afternoon, the Ageas Bowl is expected to remain bright and sunny.

Team News

South Africa

Faf du Plessis sustained a small blow to his finger while fielding in the slips, but later returned to bat. Beuran Hendricks, Dale Steyn’s replacement brings variety as a left-arm pacer. He’s played international cricket before, hence slotting him in the line-up remains a bright possibility. Although if Ngidi is fit, the place automatically becomes his. Aiden Markram is an option South Africa won’t completely ignore, and can come in ahead of JP Duminy. Imran Tahir and Tabraiz Shamsi

Probable XI: 1 Hashim Amla/Aiden Markram, Quinton de Kock (wk), Faf du Plessis (c), Rassie van der Dussen, JP Duminy, David Miller, Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi/Beuran Hendricks, Imran Tahir

West Indies

In West Indies’ opening match, Darren Bravo scored a duck. In their next, Evin Lewis scored one more than the man he’d replaced. It’s upto the West Indies as to which of these two players to back, but Lewis gives just provides a bit of a balance with Shai Hope coming in at No.3 and so on.

Probable XI: Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis, Shai Hope (wk), Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder (c), Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, Ashley Nurse, Sheldon Cottrell, Oshane Thomas

Stats and Trivia

– Inside the Powerplay, West Indies have a bowling average of 13.29 and a strike rate of 17.1 in the World Cup, best by any team.

Quotes

“Well before the start of the tournament they were saying that teams are going to make 360, 380, 400, even 500. We’ve bowled teams out for under 300 runs. We’re very happy with how the bowlers have executed. What we must do is play the one percenters a bit better.” – West Indies assistant coach Roddy Estwick is pleased how West Indies’ bowling has turned out.

“We’re very hopeful. We have played the two best teams in the World. Bangladesh, we felt that we might have been a bit complacent, we talked about it. England, we felt we could have won that game. India, we took it right to the end. That’s in our DNA, if you look at how we play, we never give away. We just need a few things to click” – Kagiso Rabada remains optimistic about South Africa’s campaign.