Majola fuming after Proteas choke again

2010-05-11 09:37

South African limited overs cricket effectively came to the end of

an era when the Proteas failed to reach the semi-final of a major ICC tournament

for the second time in a row.

Failure to beat Pakistan in their Group E ICC World Twenty20 match

at the Beausejour Stadium in St. Lucia yesterday (they lost by 11 runs) meant

the Proteas were consigned to the foot of the log and had no chance of

proceeding any further in the tournament regardless of the result of the final

Group E match between New Zealand and England.

The tournament was an exact replica of the ICC Champions’ Trophy

tournament in South Africa last year when the Proteas also beat New Zealand but

nobody else.

Proteas’ captain Graeme Smith said: “You can’t go on making

excuses,” indicating that change is needed.

Cricket South Africa CEO, Gerald Majola, said: “The early exit yet

again by the Proteas from an ICC world tournament is a huge disappointment to

say the least.

“Going into the tournament, the Proteas believed they had all the

bases covered to get to the top regarding preparation, skills and support.

“The hardest pill to swallow now is that the squad was not

marginally beaten on any of the finish lines, but faltered well short of their

targets in the early stages. We now await an explanation for this from the team

and management,” he said.

In spite of losing the toss, the Proteas got away to an excellent

start when they had Pakistan three down for only 19 runs at the end of the

power-play overs.

Albie Morkel bowled the opening over in a change of tactics before

the Proteas switched to the orthodox combination of Dale Steyn and Charl

Langeveldt.

The latter had an excellent match and deserved his return of 4/19

which included two “death” overs.

Pakistan regained momentum when Smith switched to an all-spin

attack with Roelof van der Merwe included as a second specialist spinner at the

expense of Morne Morkel in the only change to the team that had played the two

previous matches.

Van der Merwe went for nearly 40 runs in his two overs and Botha

had one off nine in between as the Akmal brothers, Kamran and Umal, targeted the

slower bowling.

When the elder Akmal departed, Shahid Afridi continued the

onslaught while the younger Akmal raced to a half-century that earned him a

well-deserved man of the match award.

The Proteas conceded 92 runs in the period between the fifth and

the 15th over and looked set to face an intimidating target.

Fortunately, the seam bowlers produced their best “death” bowling

performance of the tournament, statistically at least, conceding only 38 runs in

the last five overs to keep the target down to a very gettable 149.

As had been the case against England, however, the Proteas produced

a very tentative batting performance in the top order and were always well

behind the required rate.

There was brief hope when AB de Villiers hit the left-arm spinner,

Abdur Rehman, for a four and two sixes in one over to reach his

half-century.

The Proteas were still in the game going into the last five overs

when they only trailed Pakistan at the comparative stage by 12 runs, but the

dismissal of De Villiers, attempting a “Dil scoop”, virtually brought about the

end despite some defiant hitting from Botha.

The Proteas needed 19 from the last over from Saeed Ajmal but did

not get close in the end.

 

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