Proteas ‘not concerned’ about their opposition

2015-03-03 00:00

THE Proteas fear no opponent in the ­quarter-finals of the World Cup, but first they have to ensure that they reach the knock-out phase of the tournament.

After wins against Zimbabwe and the West Indians (and a loss against India) the Proteas are second in pool B and, should they beat Ireland at the Manuka Oval today, they will already have one foot into the next round.

And if, as is expected, the Proteas end up second in the group, a quarter-final match against Sri Lanka (in Sydney) or Australia (in Adelaide) will be a strong possibility.

“It is difficult not to take notice of what has been happening in the other group and we are constantly keeping one eye on the other teams, but we are still facing three very important matches before we can focus at all on the quarter-finals,” Farhaan Behardien said yesterday.

“We are not concerned about which team we will have to face. If we want to win the World Cup we will face three very strong teams in the knock-out rounds.

“As a group we are all focussing one direction, and our aim is [the final] on March 29.”

Behardien realises that the game against Ireland is anything but a formality.

“Ireland have played two matches and have won two, so we will not under-estimate them. We have high regard for the Irish and have studied each and every one of their players in the same manner we do with every other team we play against.”

Although Behardien has played a ­relatively limited role in his team’s success until now, he is of the opinion that his big opportunity is around the corner.

“Somewhere along the tournament I will be expected to excel and I will naturally want to grab the chance with both hands. Since I was a little boy I have dreamt about ­representing South Africa at the World Cup, and in that respect I have prepared myself for longer than 20 years for this ­opportunity,” he added.

“If things do not work out that way, it will also not be the end of the world. Just to have been able to be here, in the same team as some of the best players ever, will stay with me for a long time.”

According to Behardien, the Proteas will dedicate the game against Ireland to Dale Steyn.

The “Phalaborwa Express” will play his 100th one-day match in the Green and Gold colours — a milestone which only 18 other South Africans have achieved.

“We are all aware what a fantastic player Dale has been over the past 10 years and to be able to play 100 matches for your country is something every cricket player aspires to,” he said.

“The match will be a proud moment for him and hopefully we can make it even more special with a good performance and a win,” Behardien added.

Most experienced Poteas in ODIs

323 matches: Jacques Kallis

294: Shaun Pollock

290: Mark Boucher

248: Herschelle Gibbs

245: Jonty Rhodes

196: Graeme Smith

188: Hansie Cronjé

185: Gary Kirsten

182: AB de Villiers

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