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Handling pressure not yet SA’s forte

The Australians know how to get out of tight situations which the South Africans are yet to master in ODIs, says Sunil Gavaskar.

india Updated: Sep 23, 2009 22:54 IST

Hosts South Africa got a rude wake up call in the opening game when Sri Lanka humbled them by 55 runs. This is a fairly significant margin of defeat and the hosts will be worried that like in the 2003 and 2007 ICC events in their country, they would be spectators rather than participants.

Next year's FIFA World Cup is already being looked as an embarrassing time for South Africa since they don't have much of a team and will be out sooner than later. So, all hopes are being pinned on their cricket team to give the Rainbow Nation something to shout about.

In many respects, South Africa are similar to Australia. The love for the outdoors and sport is pretty much same and both teams play hard and are quite liberal in using gamesmanship to get an advantage.

The Australians also know how to get out of tight situations which the South Africans have learnt in Tests but have not yet mastered in the limited-overs format, where more often than not when confronted with pressure, they have succumbed than fight back.

The game against New Zealand will be another test of character for they have to beat the Kiwis to stay in the frame for qualification to the next stage.

The Lankans walloped their bowling with centurion Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara putting on a big partnership and then the classy Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera taking the total past 300.

The T20 format has energized limited-overs cricket considerably and so 300-plus totals will be par for the course now rather than an exception.

It is here that the South Africans miss an all-rounder who can come in at number 7 and blast the bowling. Albie Morkel can fill in that role and a promotion up the batting order may well do the trick for them.

The quicker bowlers also need to use the slower delivery in the power play overs a little more because their extra pace takes the ball quicker to the boundary.

Being the early season, the pitches in South Africa will take some time to settle down. Ajantha Mendis' spin bamboozled the hosts but the noticeable thing was that he and Muttiah Muralitharan got turn and that means that spin will have a role to play even on pitches known for pace and bounce.

PMG