Shaun Pollock backs South Africa for maiden World Cup triumph
Faf du Plessis' South Africa possess a strong pace bowling attack. (AFP Image)

Former allrounder Shaun Pollock feels South Africa are very much in contention to lift the World Cup this year. Although Pollock, who featured in four World Cups for South Africa – from 1996 to 2007 – admitted that luck has not always been on their side, the three-time semi-finalists have what it takes to win their first ICC title since the 1998 Champions Trophy.

“There is no reason why South Africa can’t win it (even though) there are some strong teams around. We’ve thought we’ve had the formula before, but it hasn’t worked out, but there’s no reason why this team can’t come up with the right strategy and perform at the right time and bring home the silverware,” Pollock told ICC in an interview.

South Africa have been one of the few deserving sides to have never won the World Cup, despite starting one of the favourites almost every year. During the 1992 edition, they seemed to be on course against England before a rain-rule brought the equation down to 22 needed off one ball. Seven years, South Africa endured their second heartbreak after a tie against Australia in the semi-final. In front of their home crowd in 2003, South Africa were knocked out in the first round, followed by another semi-final finish in 2015.

Reflecting on the previous editions, Pollock, a former captain, who played 303 ODIs and 108 Tests between 1995 and 2008, termed South Africa’s performance during the 1999 World Cup in England their best performance. They romped India, Sri Lanka, England, Kenya, while losing only to Zimbabwe in the group stage, before beating Pakistan and New Zealand in the Super 6s.

“I think 99 was probably the best performance we put in. Unfortunately, that tie in the semi-final meant we were knocked out but going to the World Cup with South Africa was always special,” Pollock said. “We always had a team that had the potential to go all the way. It wasn’t like we were ever just making up the numbers, and I think that’s what makes it special – it’s almost like the Olympics of cricket.