It’s a game of lottery as Proteas face a spin and win situation against India in the semi-final

2014-04-04 00:00

IT’S quite appropriate that the Proteas find themselves in a spin and win situation at the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh.

Win and spin it is as they head into today’s all important semi-final clash with the mighty Indians in Dhaka and, while it may sound like a lottery, a game of luck and fortune, that’s exactly what it is.

The nature of the swing and bash T20 game lends strong validation in calling the game a lottery and this current World Cup has proven the point, with every game difficult to call and some producing rather astounding conclusions.

There cannot be any betting man out there who has come close to correctly calling a match and the plot thickens today. While all South Africans would put their money on Faf du Plessis and his men, there remains an element of risk and doubt, the ugly question of whether they will perform hanging over their heads.

And why should it not. By hook or by crook we have found ourselves still flying the flag at the business end of the tournament and while it may not look pretty when reflecting on how we got there, there’s no turning back or room for a poor performance.

If this was a game of roulette, it would be a case of putting all the chips on one number and praying it would be the winning one.

Talk in the build-up to the match has been about both sides putting each other in a spin. The Dhaka wicket takes more turn than the Proteas have seen and played against in Chittagong and pundits are strong in their beliefs that the side who use their spinners wisely and master the turn with bat in hand will be in Sunday’s final.

That’s a pretty easy formula to buy, common sense really and, without being too brazen, it’s a subtle way of saying the game is already India’s. They are used to playing on slow, turning wickets; they have better and a bigger arsenal of spinners to call upon; and their top six batsmen have all contributed somewhere in the tournament, ensuring they remain the only unbeaten outfit to date.

For the optimist, there is the theory that every team, no matter how good they may be or what winning streak they are enjoying, the wheels have to start wobbling and come off soon. The law of averages states that every team has to have a bad game in a tournament and India have not reached that ground yet.

That’s where the lottery mindset comes in. Ask any player his thoughts ahead of a game and the answer is always the same. Something like, “We are as prepared as we can be; we know their spinners are a threat and they have dangerous batsmen; it’s a case of what happens on the day, who has a bit of luck here and there …”

And perhaps the Proteas have done enough to gain favour with Lady Luck who has given them a torrid time in the tournament to date. She tempted them with a five-run loss to Sri Lanka in their opening game and then put them through extreme torment against New Zealand and the Netherlands with both games in the balance right to the end.

With more than a little sweat, the Proteas pulled through and she gave them respite against England with what was a strong and steady performance, giving them a breather and some sanity after two stern tests.

Will the same suffice today? Fair is fair in love and war and the Proteas will no doubt be begging for some luck to come their way, while hoping India’s golden path loses it’s shine.

The hard graft has been done in getting this far and it’s time for the Proteas to switch into cruise mode, allowing everything to fall into place and run as smoothly as it should. That’s easier said than done and back home in sunny South Africa, we all hope that sanity and common sense prevails with the final team selection and batting order.

It’s been a long while since the Proteas won a trophy and this time, considering all the preparation and build up over the past two seasons toward the tournament, the fans will feel aggrieved if things are let slip again.

No pressure — just put the key in the ignition, start the engine, build up speed, change gear and stay ahead of the opposition.

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