Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Real Contenders #3: South Africa

South Africa like in the previous two World Cups, come with a good balanced side and the reputation of being chokers. They will like to finally add the ICC WC Trophy to their cabinet since this team might be the best they have ever had.

Squad of 15:

1. Graeme Smith: One of the best openers and captains around the world. Smith has knocked up over 5000 runs as skipper at a healthy rate. The southpaw has the ability to score freely and probably will play the aggressor's role in the first 15 overs to provide a good start. He is among the few batsmen who average better while chasing rather than while batting first. It clearly shows that he has ability to handle pressure, but he must finish the job and not give the opposition a chance to come back in the game, like the 2nd ODI against India. It will be his last tournament as in-charge of SA, so would definitely want to quit on a high.

2. Hashim Amla: Going through one of the best phases of his career, Amla is a soled batsmen with a lot of class. He is currently high on confidence and why wouldn't he be, after all, he tops ICC's ODI Batting Ranking. Average of close to 60 in the 42 ODIs that he has played along with a strike rate of 93, show what a performer he is. Ability to play the shots as well as to bat for long periods makes him a crucial wicket for the opposition. Seeing the prolific run that he is having right now, hardly anyone will be surprised to see Amla among the highest run-scores of the tournament.

3. Jacques Kallis: The best all-rounder in the world and by a distance. A stable batsmen who is extremely useful bowling option as well. Kallis is the best 4th pacer any starting XI can boost about. Slightly more important will be his role as batsmen particularly if Amla or Smith fall early. A champion player and total team man with over 11000 ODI runs and 250 victims to his name, Kallis is a legend of the game. Hopefully, the rib injury that occurred during the recent test series against India will not effect his good form.

4. AB De Villiers: One of the most talented batsmen to have come out of South Africa. AB shows good footwork against pacers and spinners alike. In the last two years (starting 14th Feb,2009), he averages a sensational 59 at an amazing SR of 99. Along with Kallis and Amla, he is among the most crucial reasons that Saffers have been doing well in recent times. He would like to continue this good form since he already has a good record in India. He will also be doubling up as wicket-keeper to provide flexibility to the team.

5. JP Duminy: For a batsmen who bats at number 5, Duminy averages surprisingly high. Duminy is mature middle order batsmen who has capability to score quickly in the final overs or finish off games. But, he has played only 1 ODI in India when he got a first ball duck. So, he needs to get used to the conditions as soon as possible. Duminy is also an electrifying fielder at point and will save precious runs for Saffers. His part time spin might also come into play.

6. Colin Ingram: One of the newcomers in the Saffers line-up, Ingram has scored two centuries in his first five innings including one on his debut. Ingram is a quality left handed batsmen who has the talent to perform at the big stage. However, whether his temperament enables him to adapt to different conditions in India is an unanswered question.

7. Faf du Plessis: One of the big scorers in domestic cricket of SA, Plessis made his debut against India recently. On debut, he scored a superb fighting 60 and showed signs of good temperament. Even though he failed in the other two matches, he is surely a useful batsmen. Also, his leg spin bowling might help him getting selected over Ingram as the number 6 of the team. I would pick Plessis ahead of Ingram, though the SA think tank might do the opposite.

8. Morne Van Wyk: The back-up keeper in the squad, just in case AB De Villiers isn't finding it easy to do the job. Van Wyk has the capability to bat anywhere and is a sound keeper as well. In spite of being probably the best keeper-batsmen in SA, he will be benched.

9. Johan Botha: The right arm off-spinner has been the main spinner for his country over the past 3 years or so. The 69 ODI scalps that Botha has managed have come at an average of 40 runs per wicket, showing he isn't the world's best. But then, never has he got conditions to suit him. At home, he performs much better as he averages 27. SA will hope that he performs better than what he has previously done in India. Having lead SA to ODI series wins against Australia means he will take over from Smith after the WC.

10. Imran Tahir: With 140 victims to his name at a phenomenal strike rate of just 29 balls per wicket, Tahir has been the most successful spinner in SA's domestic cricket. Originally hailing from Pakistan, he is probably the spinner that the world needs. After all, we haven't seen too many good leg spinners after the retirement of Shane Warne and Anil Kumble. From what I have heard or read about him, he might be the next big thing. Yet to make his official ODI debut, Tahir has started well by a couple of good outings in the warm-ups against Australia and Zimbabwe.

11. Robin Peterson: He has been around the SA camp for a long time now, without ever being a certainty in the playing XI. Peterson averages over 40 with the ball and is clearly not the wicket taker of the team. To be frank, he is more of an bowling all-rounder since his batting and athletic fielding skills help him getting selected. Hopefully, SA will bench him to play Tahir as their second spinner.

12. Dale Steyn: Widely regarded as the best fast bowler around the international scene presently, Steyn is both quick and accurate. Ability to swing the ball both ways with good control has made him a dangerous bowler. In his not so long career, Steyn has picked up wickets at an amazing strike rate of just 34 balls a piece, making him the number 8 on ICC ODI Bowler Rankings. I rate him among the top three pacers in this WC along with Brett Lee and Lasith Malinga.

13. Morne Morkel: Earlier, the younger Morkel was fighting with injuries and other contenders to create a place in the ODI XI for SA. However, his rise in the last two years has been superb as he is now rated number 2 in ICC ODI Bowler Rankings. Known for his pace and bounce, Morne has grown into a good fast bowlers with an average of just 24 and strike rate below 30. India will be a real test for him, since he will not get the same bounce that he manages in SA.

14. Wayne Parnell: The left arm quickie is a useful all-rounder since he can bat pretty well. Parnell has an impressive strike rate, but has the tendancy to go for runs. In recent times, Tsotsobe has been preferred over him as the third seamer but in India, the opposite should happen. Parnell who has good memories of India and can contribute with the bat as well should be selected.

15. Lonwabo Tsotsobe: Statistically, Tsotsobe has been absolutely brilliant for SA in ODIs. Not many can manage a record better than his, early on in their career. Tsotsobe performed well in the recent ODIs against India and is likely to be their third pacer. However, I do not think he will be that effective in India, due to lack of bounce or movement. Neither is he useful with the bat, so I would prefer Parnell over him.

Predictions: Semi-finalists or Finalists.

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1 comment:

  1. For South Africa to go all the way in this World Cup, there lower middle order will need to be able to contribute well and withstand the pressure. Most people don't seem to have much confidence in that lower middle order.


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