SA in trouble at ICC World Twenty20
1 October 2012
Following a loss to Australia, the Proteas remain in the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka by the skin of their teeth, thanks to India's win over Pakistan on Sunday. Had the result been the other way around, South Africa would be out.
After a narrow two-wicket loss to Pakistan on Friday – a match they were in an excellent position to win – the Proteas were well beaten by the Australians on Sunday, going down by eight wickets with 14 balls remaining in the contest.
AB de Villiers and company remain in the hunt for a semi-final place, but they will need an unlikely series of results to go their way to advance.
"I cannot put my finger on what went wrong," De Villiers said after Sunday's loss, "but I can say that we certainly did not choke tonight. We were just outplayed from start to finish by the better team.
"But we are not a team that ever gives up," he added, "and as long as we have a chance, then we will do everything to finish on a high against India on Tuesday, and we know we will have to raise our game considerably."
It could be that the Proteas are starting to show signs of being away from home for a long time; they headed to Sri Lanka from England after beginning their tour there in July. It could be that the short nature of Twenty20 game is a big equaliser when one compares team's strengths over only 20 overs. It could be that other teams are simply playing the Twenty20 game better than the South Africans.
Big innings needed
The bottom line, however, is South Africa need to win their final game and win it well. To do that, their batting will need to improve; someone will need to put up a big score. That is what was missing from the team's performances in their two Super Eights outings.
After posting posting 133 for 6 against Pakistan on Sunday, the Proteas had the 2009 champions in serious trouble on 76 for 7 in the 15th over.
Then, some lusty blows from Umar Gul, who cracked 32 off 17 deliveries, and a steady knock from Umar Akmal, who finished unbeaten on 43 off 41 balls, took the Pakistanis to the brink of victory. They ultimately made it home with two balls to spare.
If there is one result that will come back to haunt South Africa from this tournament, it will be the loss to Pakistan. "Captaincy wise one or two errors there," De Villiers admitted in his post-match interview.
South Africa and Pakistan have now met six times in Twenty20 internationals. Tellingly, the Pakistanis' three wins have all come in the ICC World Twenty20.
Sunday's clash with Australia was nowhere near as tight a match. South Africa managed 146 for 5 in their 20 overs, a slight improvement over their showing against Pakistan, but one felt it wouldn't be enough, that the Proteas had failed to follow through on some promising starts.
That proved to be the case as the Aussies went after the South African bowlers after a few cautious overs up front. David Warner fell early for five, but Shane Watson and Mike Hussey took the game away from South Africa with a 99-run stand for the second wicket in just over 10 overs.
Man of the match
Man of the match Watson was especially effective, blasting eight fours and two sixes in an innings of 70 off only 47 balls. Hussey went on to finish unbeaten on 45 off 37 balls, while Cameron White helped him see things through with 21 not out off 18 deliveries.
"Very disappointed," said De Villiers afterwards "It’s just frustrating when we don't click. I just can't put my finger on one thing, it went wrong everywhere."
South Africa now need to crush India in their last Super Eight clash and hope Australia wallop Pakistan to have any hope to advance. It's unlikely, but cricket has proved itself to be a very unpredictable game time and time again.
Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material