‘All for one’ should be the slogan

Concerted team efforts, not one-man shows, will determine the winner of the final Champions Trophy, writes Khanyiso Tshwaku.

Team sports are heavily reliant on the performances of one or two individuals.

Cricket has a whole host full of hall of famers, the exploits of whom will be retold for generations.

But the 2011 Cricket World Cup showed that collective inputs in their spurts contributed greatly to team success.

Without Yuvraj Singh’s key interventions, India would have found themselves some way short. Mainly selected for his batting power, he took key wickets when the frontline bowlers could not deliver.

Going into this year’s ICC Champions Trophy, which starts in Cardiff on Thursday, South Africa will know better than to put all their eggs in one basket.

None of the current team members was part of the 1999 World Cup side that was heavily reliant on Lance Klusener and his broad Duncan Fearnley bat.

And they will know better than to leave it to an individual.

All eight competing sides have their game breakers, whose strengths and weaknesses will be scrutinised thoroughly.

The key, though, will be how the “laymen” work around them and take responsibility, should the game breakers fail.

In AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, JP Duminy and David Miller the Proteas have their own explosives experts.

But these players cannot do it alone and they will need their infantrymen to support the artillery upfront.

It is one major advantage South Africa has over its Group B counterparts (see graphic).

If the Chris Gayle-Kieron Pollard-Marlon Samuels axis is snuffed out, the West Indies could find themselves on a wing and a prayer.

With India, the difference lies in whether they are chasing or setting.

The latter is their Achilles heel because of the lack of a specialist spearhead and the foreign conditions they will be facing in England.

They are more comfortable with the former because of their fluid but dangerous batting line-up, which includes MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli.

Cardiff may have the slowest track of the three grounds, but it is far from being like the subcontinent’s Bunsen burners.

Pakistan only has a modicum of reliability without the belligerent Shahid Afridi, who was not considered for the tournament.

His absence could well be the opportunity for the enigmatic Umar Akmal to finally take up the finishing responsibility.

Whether the top order steps up and builds a platform for him to do so, though, remains to be seen. It’s not something they did with regularity when they were tourists during the South African summer.

The threat posed by Mohammad Hafeez, Nasir Jamshed, Shoaib Malik and Younus Khan cannot be understated.

They may struggle against the pace batteries of South Africa and the West Indies, but they’ll play their A-game against India.

It’s worth noting that Pakistan have never lost to India in the Champions Trophy since 2004.

South Africa and the West Indies have a 2-2 split dating back to 1998.

In all, it has the makings of an interesting group.

‘All for one’ should be the slogan

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