Proteas into World Cup quarterfinals
16 March 2011
South Africa became the first team from a highly competitive Group B to qualify for the quarterfinals of the ICC Cricket World Cup after beating Ireland by 131 runs at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Tuesday.
"It's fantastic to have qualified already," Proteas captain Graeme Smith said at the post-match press conference.
"Our group is pretty tense this week, I think, so it's nice that we don't have to deal with that, going into the quarterfinals. We can look to our squad and see how we want to go into that Bangladesh game (South Africa's final group match) now."
Essentially, what the Proteas' victory means is that, after the game against Bangladesh, they need to score three wins in succession. Achieve that, and they win the World Cup.
Against Ireland, South Africa's bowlers excelled once more, and once again bowled the opposition out, the only team to do so in every match at the World Cup.
"They've got a pretty formidable bowling attack," reckoned Irish captain William Porterfield.
"They've got the two lads up front ... you've got Morkel and Steyn, who are two of the best. They've got pace, but something different as well, because Steyn swings it and you've got Morkel's bounce as well.
"It's something to contend with opening the batting, and then they've obviously got quality spinners as well."
While the bowlers flourished, there were some hiccups in the South African innings, including run outs of key batsmen Smith and Jacques Kallis.
"We got ourselves into a bit of trouble today with some stupid run outs, so unnecessary, but the positive is to see how the guys responded," said Smith.
With AB de Villiers and Imran Tahir sidelined through injuries, the South African selectors opted for an extra batsman and it proved to be an excellent decision as the side's top four batsmen failed to put up the runs they would have hoped to.
Top order dismissals
Hashim Amla was out for 18. Having struck Boyd Rankin for a four and six, he was out the very next ball after upper cutting a ball to third man where George Dockrell pulled off a stunning catch to send Amla on his way.
Smith was run out when he was sent back by Morne van Wyk, who had been sent in at number three, for only seven off 18 deliveries.
Van Wyk managed 42 runs off 41 balls, but was dropped a couple of times.
Jacques Kallis contributed 19 off 31 balls before he became the second man to be run out. It was also his second run out in succession, following his dismissal for 69 against India.
Faf du Plessis didn't last long, departing for 11, and that's when the selectors' decision to include an extra batsman paid off as Colin Ingram, who hadn't yet played in the World Cup, joined JP Duminy in the middle.
Playing very positively, Ingram refused to allow the Irish bowlers to dictate matters after South Africa had fallen to 117 for 5.
Together, he and Duminy added 86 runs for the sixth wicket. Ingram was finally out for a well played 46 off 43 balls, having provided the Proteas' innings with some impetus.
Man of the match Duminy went on to make 99 at almost a run a ball before he was caught going for a big shot off the third last ball of the innings. "It's not great to have not got the one run, but it's all about the team and making sure the team wins," he commented after the game.
With Johan Botha adding an unbeaten 21, South Africa finished on 272 for 7. It was a difficult task to gauge just how good that score was as Eden Gardens was hosting its first match of the World Cup. The pitch looked true, but appeared a little difficult to score quickly upon.
The Proteas' score quickly began to look good as the Irish found South Africa's bowlers tough to deal with. Morkel removed the openers, Porterfield and Paul Stirling for six and 10 respectively, and also, embarrassingly, badly spilt an easy catch offered by Stirling off the bowling of Steyn.
Jacques Kallis had Niall O'Brien caught behind by Van Wyk and then it was the turn of the spinners, who have played a more prominent and successful role for South Africa in this World Cup than any previous world Cup.
Johan Botha removed Ed Joyce for 12 and Robin Peterson followed up with the next three wickets to fall, including top scorer Gary Wilson for 31. He finished with a haul of 3 for 32 in eight overs.
Peterson, aged 31, has been around for a long time and made his debut for South Africa in September 2002. He had never enjoyed an extended run in the national team in that time. Now, however, his form in the current World Cup is the best of his international career and he has been a reliable, wicket-taking performer for the Proteas.
Behind Peterson's three wickets, which fell for the addition of only 15 runs, Ireland slumped to 107 for 7 and the game had clearly moved beyond their abilities of recovery.
JP Duminy picked up the eighth wicket to fall when he had Trent Johnson caught behind by Van Wyk for 12.
John Mooney became Kallis' second victim for 14, once again caught by Van Wyk.
Finally, George Dockrell lashed Morkel over cover, but was caught behind the very next ball by Van Wyk for 16, with a spectacular dive to his right at full stretch.
The wicketkeeper finished with four catches in the innings. It was a good return from Van Wyk after a below standard showing against India. In the previous match, it has emerged, he mistakenly took a sleeping pill instead of a vitamin pill, which certainly made life difficult!
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