South Africa look for early boost to maximise their potential
Squad: Temba Bavuma (c), Gerald Coetzee, Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen, Lizaad Williams.
Best finish at the tournament
Semi-finalists (1992, 1999, 2007, 2015)
Despite having never won the Cricket World Cup, South Africa have been a consistent performer at the tournament. In their eight World Cup appearances so far, South Africa have made the semi-finals on four occasions.
In 1992, their splendid debut campaign came to an end in the semis courtesy of a controversial finish marred by rain. At one stage, South Africa needed 22 off 13 against England. However, after the rain disruption, the equation became an impossible 21 off one.
The 1999 World Cup saw a topsy-turvy thriller end in a tie despite South Africa holding the advantage till the last moment. Australia went into the final by virtue of securing a higher place in the Super Six stage.
In the 2007 World Cup, South Africa were undone by one of the all-time great ODI sides. Australia's pacers, led by the inimitable Glenn McGrath, bowled out the Proteas for less than 150.
South Africa put up a good fight against New Zealand in 2015, scoring a competitive total in their allotted overs. However, a steady knock from Grant Elliott helped the Black Caps overcome the challenge in the final over of the chase.
Results in last 10 ODI games
(Most recent first): W W W L L W W W L L
vs Sri Lanka (7 October), Delhi
vs Australia (12 October), Lucknow
vs Netherlands (17 October), Dharamsala
vs England (21 October), Mumbai (Wankhede)
vs Bangladesh (24 October), Mumbai (Wankhede)
vs Pakistan (27 October), Chennai
vs New Zealand (1 November), Pune
vs India (5 November), Kolkata
vs Afghanistan (10 November), Ahmedabad
vs Australia (12 October), Lucknow
South Africa will be out to set the right tone from the outset at the World Cup. While they begin their campaign against Sri Lanka, the Proteas will have an opportunity to test their mettle against familiar foes Australia.
Head to head, they are marginally ahead of their formidable rivals in the format, having won 54 ODIs in their clashes compared to Australia’s 50 victories.
The two sides recently featured in a riveting five-game ODIs series in the lead up to the global event. South Africa came back from 2-0 down to win three games in a row and claim the series.
Brought up in similar bouncy conditions, it will be interesting to see how the teams cope with the turning tracks of India. It might as well then become a battle between their spin attacks.
The South Africa batters will need to overcome the guile of Adam Zampa and his compatriots, whereas they would hope the experience of Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi comes good in Lucknow.
Quinton de Kock
South Africa’s ODI star will retire from the format after the upcoming Cricket World Cup.
The left-hander has been a consistent performer for his team, having scored 6176 ODI runs at an average of 44.75 with a strike rate touching 96. De Kock has built this formidable record with 17 hundreds and 30 fifties.
While his retirement will be a great loss for the Proteas, the 30-year-old will look to leave his mark in a final ODI campaign. De Kock can arrive with confidence too, with his past performances in India at 47 runs per innings and a strike rate of 99 improving on his career benchmarks.
The keeper-batter took some time to hit the groove in his comeback series against Australia, but managed a half-century and went on to score 210 runs at 42. If he manages to hit his strides early in the tournament, South Africa might just have a World Cup to remember.
Although South Africa are placed at a healthy No.4 position in the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s ODI Team Rankings, it is tricky to predict their prospects in the world event based on that position alone.
A good start will work wonders for the Proteas especially after they showed against Australia that they can be an extremely dangerous side when playing with momentum.
Temba Bavuma is not only a star of the ODI format but has also shown propensity to score tough runs. The South Africa skipper is enjoying a rich run of form and will be a formidable pairing along with de Kock at the top of the order.
Reeza Hendricks also looms as another experienced top-order option in an area of strength for the Proteas.
Backing them up is a resolute middle order, comprising the likes of Aiden Markram, David Miller, Rassie van der Dussen, and Heinrich Klaasen.
South Africa will particularly be pleased with Klaasen’s recent run after a destructive 174 from 83 propelled South Africa to a total in excess of 400 in the fourth ODI against Australia at Centurion.
Despite losing a stellar pace bowling option like Anrich Nortje to injury, South Africa still have the services of Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Marco Jansen, Andile Phehlukwayo, Lizaad Williams and Gerald Coetzee. The presence of Jansen and Phehlukwayo boosts their batting as well.
However, the biggest game changers for South Africa in India will perhaps be their spinners, Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi.
Maharaj’s miraculous recovery after an unfortunate injury in March is a massive boost for the side and he picked eight wickets in the recently concluded ODI series against Australia. On the other hand, Shamsi has always been a strong wicket-taking prospect for the side.
With eight players over 30, the roster isn’t short of experience. Strong performances from their senior players will be imperative for South Africa’s success in India.