Bowlers give 'chokers' South Africa wings this WC (SWOT)

May 23 2019

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 Led by young Kagiso Rabada and veteran Imran Tahir, 'perennial chokers' South Africa will be looking to ride their bowlers' firepower to try and shed the tag and make their eighth attempt to win the World Cup at the showpiece event beginning May 30 in England and Wales.

The Proteas, a side which always had the potential on paper to lift the trophy, never actually made it to the final of the tournament, having crashed out at the semi-final stage on four occasions.

It was heartbreaking in 1999 when they were vanquished by eventual winners Australia and from then on the story has been more or less the same. In 2015, their World Cup campaign ended in controversy over quotas when the team management was forced to pick Vernon Philander for the semi-final against New Zealand, though it wanted to retain the winning combination.

This time, the Faf du Plessis-led side are not counted among the favourites to lift the trophy, but their bowling battery has all bases covered and looks threatening, especially in English conditions.

IANS does a SWOT analysis of the South Africa World Cup squad:

Strengths

Led by Rabada, who took the Indian Premier League by storm, scalping 25 wickets in 12 matches before picking up a back injury, South Africa this year are placing a huge emphasis on their bowling attack. 

The pace trio of Rabada, Dale Steyn and Lungi Ngidi will be expected to fire on all cylinders and make the most of English conditions although more often than not, they would find flat decks to deal with.

Coming to spinners, du Plessis would look no further than Tahir who ruled the IPL with the ball, returning as the highest wicket-taker with 26 scalps to his name from 17 matches as his team Chennai Super Kings reached the final.

Among the batsmen, skipper Faf and wicketkeeper batsman Quinton de Kock have been in good form in the IPL, both playing the final for Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians respectively with Mumbai going on to win the title.

Weaknesses

South Africa's middle order is not strong enough, although there is no dearth of experience with the likes of David Miller and JP Duminy around. However, they lack proven match winners. 

In Andile Phehlukwayo, they have a batting all-rounder who has done well since the 2015 World Cup with an average of 31.3 with the bat and 29.8 with the ball. 

South Africa also picked 36-year old Hashim Amla despite his poor form and left out Reeze Hendricks who played 18 consecutive ODIs before being axed ahead of their recent match against Sri Lanka in March. It remains to be seen whether Amla does well or not.

Opportunities

South Africa do have match winners in Rabada, Tahir and du Plessis who as captain has won 11 of their 13 series. Rabada is desperate to further raise his stock as the best pacer in the world by winning the biggest prize in the sport, while 40-year old leg-spinner Tahir is as passionate as anyone for any team he plays for.

Champion quick Steyn, 35, would also hope to stay fit and break the jinx to lift the World Cup and possibly end his glittering career on a high. Steyn needs just four wickets to break the 200-barrier at the World Cup. For Amla, who has 27 hundreds, but over the past year looked a pale shadow of his former self, this will also be a last chance.

The fact that South Africa are going into this World Cup as a team, which never manages to fulfill its potential, should also help them.

"I think the 'chokers' label for South Africa is a little bit too exaggerated and it's also unfair. But I do realise that South Africa have struggled and could have performed better. They will, in time, win one of these big trophies," Proteas' former Performance Director Paddy Upton had said.

Threats

South Africa do have experience on their side, be it in bowling or batting. But injuries to pacers -- all three of Rabada, Steyn and Ngidi will be coming on the back of nursing niggles -- could prove to be a bane. Their batters also haven't been in great form and with other teams having strong match winners in their ranks, who are also in better form, this could be a big threat for Proteas.

Squad: Faf du Plessis (captain), Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Rassie van der Dussen, JP Duminy, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir

  • Source
  • IANS