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Proteas have prospered away

With every side suffering a loss at some point, it’s fair to say that there has been no standout side. However, if I had to name one it would be South Africa. Steve Waugh writes.

cricket Updated: Mar 22, 2011 12:58 IST
Steve Waugh

With every side suffering a loss at some point, it’s fair to say that there has been no standout side. However, if I had to name one it would be South Africa. They had one ‘choke’ game against England, but since then, have not put a foot wrong. They have prospered away from the limelight and favourites’ tag, and displayed some skill in areas that have not been their forte.

Significant among these is spin. They have used their slow bowlers well and, starting with Imran Tahir and continuing with Robin Petersen, the Proteas have proved they can go all the way in the sub-continent. I would also keep an eye on AB de Villiers, who is growing into a significant batsman.

England lacklustre

The switch-hitting Kevin Pietersen is absent and Andrew Strauss’ men have been all over the place as far form is concerned. Many pundits are saying that the way they changed the game to win dramatically against the West Indies and South Africa is compelling.

What’s more, they are comparing this team to the Pakistan team of 1992 and West Indies team of 1999 because of the way they have been coming back from the brink.

My argument is that they have not won a single game convincingly. The reverse swing of James Anderson has not taken off and their other game-changer, Stuart Broad, is not around.

I don’t see them getting past powerful Sri Lanka, whose batsmen are in prime form and the doosras and carom balls are going well for the spinners.

Pak a revelation

Pakistan are the surprise team and they have been consistent but for that blip against New Zealand. What is impressive is that they have remained calm and not been their mercurial selves.

They will, however, encounter another mercurial side that has not been going well, the West Indies.

I will stick my neck out, though, and predict that the West Indies might surprise Pakistan, especially if they bat first. The only concern would be how they play the Pakistan spinners.

(Gameplan)