Will the Proteas choke again?

2013-06-14 09:03

South Africa and the West Indies have dished up some classics in ICC tournaments. But when it comes to crunch matches, it is the islanders who hold the bigger edge, having dispatched South Africa when the need has arisen.

With their game-breakers, they look an even more imposing team but they have not lost their tendency of blowing hot and cold.

They have been lukewarm to say the least in their contrasting results against Pakistan and India, where they won narrowly and were pasted respectively. As reigning T20 World Cup champions, they will know something about dealing with pressure situations.

The same cannot be said of the Proteas, who seem to have stage fright built into their DNA. While it may be a group game, it holds the portents of a quarterfinal as the winners will join India, who can’t finish lower than second.

The two teams were in the same stage in 2004, albeit in a different format, where Ramnaresh Sarwan’s half-century laid a platform for Ricardo Powell to freewheel the Windies to a crucial win on their way to winning the trophy.

Their semifinal clash two years later, which captains AB de Villiers and Dwayne Bravo were part of, was a lopsided West Indian win. It was the last time the West Indies beat South Africa, but in pressure games, you can never know.

Bravo mounted the pressure when he branded the Proteas as chokers. It’s a brave but validated statement.

Key match-up: Chris Gayle vs the spinners

Whichever combination of spinners South Africa fields, Chris Gayle will have them in his cross hairs. His simplistic approach to playing spin means that all he does is to clout them out of the ground with minimal effort.

He has his issues with the short ball, and with Dale Steyn set to make a return, a big-gun clash could be inevitable. South Africa do know that Gayle is susceptible to spin early on and it’s a trick that worked well when the teams clashed in the World Cup two years ago.

Gayle, though, hasn’t scored an ODI century against South Africa since his unbeaten 133 in Jaipur nearly seven years ago. He could be due for a big score.

Team news

South Africa:

De Villiers said Dale Steyn is “99.9%” ready and should be available for selection. This will lead to an interesting selection quandary, especially with the left-arm spinners, as Aaron Phangiso fared better than Robin Peterson, who offered more with the bat. One of them could make space for Steyn, who was bowling at full pelt on Tuesday.

West Indies:

They have a clean bill of health, which means they should stick with the same 11 that played against India. They will require more from their middle order, which failed to fire in both of their matches.

Probable teams

South Africa: Hashim Amla, Colin Ingram, Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers (C & WK), JP Duminy, Ryan McLaren, Chris Morris, Aaron Phangiso/Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe

West Indies: Chris Gayle, Johnson Charles (WK), Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Dwayne Bravo (C), Kieron Pollard, Darren Sammy, Sunil Narine, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach

What they said

“He’ll feel a bowler and then after two or three overs he’ll decide, ‘OK, it’s you and me today’. So hopefully he doesn’t get that tomorrow.” – Proteas captain AB de Villiers on Chris Gayle’s liking for spinners

“I think the South Africans will feel the pressure also. They know if they lose, they are going back home. They have a tag of being chokers that do not do well in big tournaments.” – West Indian captain Dwayne Bravo not mincing his words regarding South Africa’s ability in knockout matches.

– City Press

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