South Africa lost the penultimate match of the World T20 preparation to Australia and eventually lost the series to the visitors 2-1. This is a huge setback to South Africa as their confidence level deteriorates even before flying to India for the marquee event.
The Australian team flew to South Africa to make a last minute preparation for World T20 in India on subcontinent like pitch. South Africa lost the home series to Australia after winning two consecutive T20 series victory against India on Indian soil and home against England to boost their confidence. But, this series loss has left questions regarding South Africa’s preparation for the biennial event. A defeat to a tournament favourite Australia, who just before the kick off of the bilateral series, were an unsettled team got a perfect combination for the World T20. South Africa lost the Johannesburg match even after scoring 204 and 178 in Cape Town.
South Africa feature in the group of raw England, confident West Indies, shaky Sri Lanka and a team from the qualifier round. It is not a tough group though Sri Lankan spinners and West Indies’ experience in Indian conditions may trouble South Africa. However, they will remain favourite to progress through to the semi-final.
Just before the series defeat to Australia, the Proteas were the hot favourite for the ICC’s most favoured tournament. But, as they are humbled by Australia in the last two matches that offer critics number of reason to scan their potential in the World T20.
Ranking: South Africa slipped to No. 3 after the final match defeat against Australia. West Indies with the same rating points 118 in 19 matches are ranked 2.
Weakness: This South Africa lack middle order depth and lower middle order strength. South Africa got a robust top order, but their middle order does not have depth as JP Duminy is not in form. He last scored a half century against India at Dharmashala and Farhan Behardien did not get good match practice. South Africa also don’t have any good spinner other than Imran Tahir. Aron Phangiso is cleared by ICC, so he will offer an option to South Africa, but his effectiveness will not be as good as Tahir. Meanwhile, South Africa’s Chris Morris and David Wiese could be targeted by opposition batsman as they may find difficulty in facing Rabada and Steyn. So, the South Africa will always have the problem of the fifth bowler which is still unsolved after the conclusion of Australia series.
Another problem South Africa have is they can’t handle the crunch situations.
Strength: South Africa have power hitters like Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers and Rille Rossouw. Opener Hashim Amla is also in good form. So, South Africa’s top order will give a nightmare to any opposition team. These players also have good knowledge of Indian pitches as they have been playing IPL for the last many years now. Fielding will also be a positive point for South Africa.
Besides batting, South Africa also have a bowler like young Kagiso Rabada, who in the last series in India proved that his fast and swing bowling could be effective in Indian conditions. He will also be complemented by his senior teammate Dale Steyn.
Player to watch out: Young pacer Kagiso Rabada whose Yorker and fast bowling will make a difference against West Indies and England. Rabada is also a good fielder.
Win and loss ratio: South Africa have played seven T20 matches and won 13 matches since the 2014 World T20 in Bangladesh and lost 11 matches. And since the India series in September, South Africa lost three matches and eight matches.
Expectations: It is expected that South Africa will utilise their knowledge of Indian conditions to the fullest. Their players like AB de Villiers, David Miller, JP Duminy, Dale Steyn are familiar with the Indian pitches. But, they have always one problem-they lose cool in pressure situations. So, at least a semi-final will be my verdict.
Coach: Russell Domingo
South African WT20 squad: Faf du Plessis (capt), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Chris Morris, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn, David Wiese.