Smith: Proteas’ struggle chasing runs has been exposed

2015-03-10 00:00

WELLINGTON — South Africa’s opponents in the World Cup quarter-finals are smelling blood after the disastrous run chase by the Proteas against Pakistan on Saturday, says Graeme Smith.

The former Proteas captain also feels that the 29-run loss (according to the Duckworth-Lewis system) at Eden Park has cost the Proteas some valuable preparation time prior for their expected knock-out game against Sri Lanka.

The Proteas were given a modest 232 runs to score in 47 overs for victory against Pakistan but were bowled out for a paltry 202 in 33.3 overs.

“I don’t know what was said in Pakistan’s change room after their innings but they came out walking in an aggressive manner and looked hungry for a victory, something which has not yet been seen by them during this tournament. The Pakistani bowlers were willing to give runs away to take wickets and they implemented their bowling plan excellently,” Smith wrote in a column on the International Cricket Council’s website.

“Their unique bowling attack, with three left-handed fast bowlers, was used to suit the conditions. They bowled full and wide — as the dismissal of the seven Proteas batsmen who were caught behind, would attest.”

According to Smith, who led the Proteas in 2007 and 2011 respectively to a semi-final and quarter-final at the World Cup, South Africa’s “persistent inability to chase a winning target” is of great concern.

“With the exception of the semi-final loss against Australia in 2007, the Proteas batted second in every one of the matches they have been knocked out since 1992.

“The brains trust would have been very aware of this … long before the match against Pakistan.”

In his opinion this continuing struggle by the Proteas when they bat second is a big worry as they face the quarter-finals.

“Whenever we had to chase a score of more than 240 runs, our winning record since the last World Cup is a mere three [wins] out of 13 matches. Moreover since January 2013 we have a winning percentage of only 39% in all one-day matches where we had to bat second,” wrote Smith.

“On the other hand, the Proteas have, over the same period, won 24 out of 32 matches when they batted first — the best of all other Test-playing countries.”

AB de Villiers and his side yesterday swapped their cricket bats for golf clubs and fishing rods in the New Zealand ­capital.

The team face the United Arab Emirates in their last group match on Thursday at the Westpac Stadium.

The Proteas are likely to meet Sri Lanka in the first knock-out match on March 18 after they lost their determining group game against Australia by 64 runs.

That defeat means that the Sri Lankans, who still have to play against Scotland, will probably finish third in Group A.

“South Africa would have wanted to use the match against Pakistan as a dress rehearsal in case they need to chase a score under the increased pressure of a knock-out game,” wrote Smith.

“The defeat probably did not make much of a difference in terms of where the Proteas will end up in Group B, but Sri Lanka would definitely have taken notice of their struggle to chase a score of only 232.”

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