World Cup T-20: Can the Proteas break the drought?

Another world championship is at the door and one can already hear the whispers of the “C” word going around. These whispers will get stronger and louder as the proteas land in Dhaka to play the ICC world T20 championship. South Africa, for the first time does not look strong contenders for the title entering into a world championship. They’re a team in transformation unsure of the batting positions and slow bowlers, both of whom are going to be crucial on the low and slow wickets in Bangladesh. Is the lack of expectation going to be a blessing in disguise? South Africa will have their work cut out as they will be facing, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and England. The Kiwis and the Lankans would provide a stiff test for the proteas especially with their slow bowling.

South Africa will depend heavily on AB de Villiers who is arguably the best batsman in the world right now. The way AB de Villiers performs in the tournament will decide the fate of the team. If South Africa have to go deep into the tournament, it is important that he bats at number 3. He needs to play the maximum number of overs and cannot be wasted down the order. Another crucial player for the proteas will be David Miller coming to bat at 6. He will play the role master finisher and will be expected to win them the tight games. Quinton de Kock is the new boy wonder of South African cricket.

Highly rated and often compared to de Villiers, he will be opening the innings along with Hashim Amla and is expected to go after the leather from the ball one. It will be interesting to see how he performs in the sub-continental conditions where most teams will probably start with spinners. Amla on the other hand, is expected to hold fort and provide the platform for the rest of the players to play aggressively around him. Skipper Faf du Plessis has already shown he can play according to the needs of the team. He will need to support de Villiers.

JP Duminy will play the role of all-rounder in this team. He seems to have been stuck for some time with his batting and with high scores eluding him, he will want to play well and prove the detractors wrong.

South Africa was always the country of all rounder’s. Starting from Brian McMillan to Wayne Parnell, they all seem to have the uncanny ability to bat and bowl efficiently. With no Jacques Kallis around and Ryan McLaren not preferred, Albie Morkel and Wayne Parnell have been assigned the job for this edition. The recall of Albie Morkel , who is a powerful lower order hitter and a decent bowler after more than a year on sidelines is thought to be a sign of desperation by many but overall it seems a well thought out move. Albie has played a lot of IPL cricket, he is experienced in the sub continental conditions and played some thrilling knocks and most of all will be hungry to prove his detractors wrong. Wayne Parnell on the other hand is a bowling all rounder and will probably not feature regularly unless Albie has a really bad start.

South African pace bowling attack is the probably one of the best in the world right now. However, the slow wickets and lack of bounce could nullify their efforts. Both Steyn and Morkel will have to strive extra to get the wickets and keep the run rate under control. Du Plessis will be hoping that Steyn is angry every time he gets the ball in his hand as he has time and again showed what he can do when he is upset. South Africa has so far failed to use their spinners in big tournaments.

Although many of them think Imran Tahir is lucky to be selected, history has shown that a leg spinner always provides you with an attacking option and his record in the shorter version of the game shows that he is a decent bowler. On the slow wickets, South Africa must find a way to include him in the team especially against New Zealand and England in the first round of the games.

He could provide the wicket taking opportunities even if the fast bowlers do not get anything out of the slow wickets. Aaron Phangiso will provide the proteas with the second spinner option should the need arise. Lonwabo Tsotsobe would be the final piece of the team puzzle. His left arm bowling would provide the required variety and proteas would be hoping that he will continue his success in the shorter versions of the game.

The rest of the squad includes Farhaan Behardien, a middle order batsman and Beuran Hendricks, a fast bowler. Both of them barring injuries to others would remain on the sidelines. Overall South Africa will need its best players to execute their job with efficiency along with some luck along the way to crack the ICC trophy drought.

South Africa Team: Faf du Plessis (C), Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (WK), AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Beuran Hendricks, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe

Sports Cosmos Prediction: South Africa will reach the semifinals of T20 World Cup

Asvin Lakkaraju [Asvin plays for the Swiss National Team .  and is a sports analyst for the Cricket Galaxy at Sportz Cosmos. Join him on twitter here.]

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