World T20 Previews: South Africa

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South Africa are about to take on England, and in the last of MTW’s World T20 previews, Kevin provides a guide to the Proteas.


 

The Proteas have done really well in T20 recently – they beat Bangladesh and India away, and England at home. However, they lost two matches in a row against Australia recently, with a few known weaknesses in the side getting exposed.

Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla have done well of late, and yet they haven’t played together in the same XI for a while now. This is likely to continue according to Faf du Plessis and the coach, Russell Domingo. The logic behind this move is to have AB de Villiers facing as many deliveries as possible by opening. The idea has had mixed results. But the best thing would be to play all three of them. This would only work if Amla and de Kock open and AB moves back to number four, which also strengthens the middle order.

A big positive for South Africa has been David Miller’s return to form. He has been striking the ball well and won the first T20 against Australia for the side. He has played a lot of T20 cricket in India and has won a lot of matches for his IPL team single-handedly.

Aaron Phangiso’s selection was a surprise for many. However, his international T20 record speaks for itself. Phangiso has not played a T20i since August 2015, and missed out on a chance during the Australia series after being reported for a suspect action. He was cleared in time for the final T20i, but Domingo chose to give him time to work on his action instead. With the kind of pitches that are likely to be used and JP Duminy’s declining part time off-spin, Phangiso is likely to get a match or more, unlike last year’s Cricket World Cup

The team has started to do significantly better when chasing, something that has been a massive problem for them over the years. On the other hand, they lost two matches to Australia defending a total. In the second T20i against Australia, they were defending 204 – Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada left them reeling at 3/32. Australia went on to win the game, with David Wiese going for 58 runs in his four overs. With a strong bowling attack consisting of Steyn, Rabada, Imran Tahir and Kyle Abbott, they should be doing much better.

Strengths

THE TOP ORDER: The Proteas boast of possibly the strongest top order in T20 cricket. De Kock, Amla, du Plessis and de Villiers are all in form. Amla has proved he is just as good in the shortest format with some superb performances in recent matches. De Kock has regained the form and confidence that was missing for him throughout the World Cup last year. He also has a great record in India.

Du Plessis and de Villiers have played a handful of matches in the IPL and know these conditions very well.

RABADA AND TAHIR: have been terrific in limited overs. Rabada has been essentially leading the pace attack in all three formats in the absence of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander. He has been excellent upfront with the new ball and at the death. Tahir’s leg spin has gotten the team crucial breakthroughs. He has been one of the best limited overs spin bowlers for a while now.

Weaknesses

THE MIDDLE: David Miller has finally started scoring again, but Duminy and Rilee Rossouw have struggled. They have both looked lost and have wasted deliveries by scoring slowly. The other middle/lower order options include Farhaan Behardien. He has not done much with the bat, and his bowling looks worse than Amla’s part part-time off spin.

To be fair, Duminy has been South Africa’s best T20 performer in the past few years and won them the series in India. He also managed to get going in the warm up match vs India, and his recent confidence boost is extremely crucial to their chances.

WIESE AND CHRIS MORRIS: are the two all-rounders in the side, and they have bowled poorly in the last few matches. If they opt to play four bowlers, it will be tough to choose between them. The slowish pitches in some grounds in India might suit Wiese, and he is generally a better batsman than Morris. He got going with the bat in South Africa’s second warm up match, smashing 34 off 19 balls facing Steyn, Morris, Abbott and Rabada. Morris has performed with the bat in international matches more often than Wiese, but has bowled just as poorly.

Prediction

South Africa should at least make it past the group stage. They are up against England, West Indies, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. The side will feel confident against England after beating them recently, and Sri Lanka have been poor recently. West Indies are without Narine and Pollard, and could be undone by Imran Tahir in Indian conditions.

Best XI

All three of de Kock, de Villiers and Amla need to be part of the first-choice XI. The team management needs to trust the top order and bring in a bowler for one of David Wiese or Chris Morris, as they are both usually expensive.

  1. Quinton de Kock (wk)
  2. Hashim Amla
  3. Faf du Plessis (c)
  4. AB de Villiers
  5. JP Duminy
  6. David Miller
  7. Chris Morris
  8. Kagiso Rabada
  9. Dale Steyn
  10. Kyle Abbott
  11. Imran Tahir

In spite of the few weaknesses in the side, South Africa remain one of the favourites to win the trophy.

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