Kass Naidoo

Winning as easy as AB... C

2007-04-11 09:26

Kass Naidoo

I was dreading yesterday's Super Eights match against the West Indies, mostly because of how regularly they have knocked us out of key tournaments in recent times.

In 1996 Brian Lara's men beat us in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, in 2003 we were toppled in our opening World Cup match, and last year, they knocked us out in the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy in India.

This time though, the pressure was on both teams, with the West Indies needing to win to have a realistic chance of making the semi-finals, and South Africa looking to bounce back after that demoralising loss to Bangladesh.

Playing the West Indies was always going to test South Africa's character, but it was made easier when Brian Lara sent the Proteas in to bat. At last we got to see South Africa set a total against a top team.

Their batting was clinical, destructive, and well paced. Not one batsman, the captain aside, scored fewer than 50 runs (Pollock was 0 not out off 0 balls).

No surprise

The West Indies would have licked their lips when Jacques Kallis came in at number three, during the first power play.

Didn't he surprise us all, putting on 50 runs in the second power play with AB de Villiers, and forcing Lara into delaying the last set of restricted overs?

Their dominating match-winning partnership of 170 for the second wicket changed the scope of the match dramatically.

Kallis was the most animated I'd seen him out in the middle, constantly talking to De Villiers, who, cramps and all, played some of the most scintillating shots we've seen in a long time.

Middle-overs batting has been a concern on these Caribbean wickets, but not yesterday, when Kallis and De Villiers rotated the strike regularly.

Plundered

Encouragingly, South Africa weren't afraid to shuffle their batting order around at the last minute.

When the West Indies ran out of time, and were forced to use their final power play, South Africa plundered a stunning 134 for the loss of just two wickets in the final 10 overs. Mark Boucher and Herschelle Gibbs were sensational at the death.

The Proteas played with the kind of intensity we all know they can, and once again showed that their strength at this World Cup lies in their batting.

Nerves

It was great that our bowlers had such a formidable total to defend, but there will still be calls to include Robin Peterson, to provide variety and help with our over rate.

After last night's win my nerves have stabilised, but more importantly, South Africa's World Cup campaign is back on track.

PS: I received a few e-mails suggesting that Graeme Smith be stripped of the captaincy - or even dropped. Before last night's match he was the tournament's second-highest run scorer behind Australia's Matthew Hayden. Hmmm...

  • Kass Naidoo is editor of gsport... for Girls!

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