SA no strangers to Champions Trophy heartbreak

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Team profile: South Africa

 

Overview

The Proteas go into the tournament, as they have done at every ICC event in recent years, as one of the favourites and hoping to break their title duck. For a side so filled with talent, they haven’t been able to carry through to a final and are often hit-or-miss at tournaments. They are ranked fourth in the ICC standings, though have played significantly fewer games than the sides above them, and have the fire power with both bat and ball to pull off a victory.

 

Strengths

South Africa’s batting line up, starring the top two ODI batsmen in Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers, is a formidable one. Amla is also the top-ranked Test batsman, and has a superb record in England. Added to these two, there are young guns like David Miller, a star at this year’s IPL, and Faf du Plessis to call upon.

As for the bowling, the Proteas’ pace attack features three of the top 10 ODI bowlers in the world in Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. Steyn, also the top Test bowler, comes into the tournament off a successful outing in the IPL, and will be eager to show that his skills encompass the one-day arena too.

The strength during this tournament, which was seemingly missing before, is a mental toughness encouraged by coach Gary Kirsten and explorer Mike Horn. The side worked with Horn before their Test series in England last year, to great effect, and they will want to give Kirsten a great goodbye gift by winning the title.

 

Weaknesses

The Proteas don’t have a Saeed Ajmal or a Graeme Swann in their ranks. Robin Peterson is a handy slow bowler, and a valuable member of the side, but he’s ranked only 34th and will be targeted by opposition batsmen, particularly India and Pakistan, who know how to play spin very well. Aaron Phangiso is inexperienced and will need to bowl well to survive.

The Proteas will also be weakened by the absence of Graeme Smith, who had to withdraw with a dodgy ankle. His experience in England will be greatly missed, while the confidence inspired by Jacques Kallis’ presence will also have to be found elsewhere.

 

One to watch

We’ll be keeping a close eye on Dolphins batsman David Miller. The 23-year old was superb during the IPL for the Kings XI Punjab, and while his ODI career has been short and average, he has the potential to turn a game for the Proteas. He has the shots and the temperament, and has played enough county cricket to be familiar with the venues.

 

Probable bench-warmer

If JP Duminy is fully fit following his Achilles injury, as is expected, then Farhaan Behardien could find himself carrying the drinks. The Proteas middle order is wobbly, so Colin Ingram could also suffer if Duminy’s experience is able to feature. Phangiso will probably play second fiddle to Robbie P.

 

Last Three Tournament Finishes

2009: Finished last in group B

2006: Lost in semi-finals to West Indies

2004: Knocked out in group stage

 

We’re going to make a bold prediction and say they will reach the final, thanks to Duckworth-Lewis in the semis, but they will not be able to jump the final hurdle.

 

Squad

AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Colin Ingram, Rory Kleinveldt, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Alviro Petersen, Robin Peterson, Aaron Phangiso, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe

 

Fixtures

6 June: v India, Cardiff

10 June: v Pakistan, Birmingham

14 June: v West Indies, Cardiff