Over the past year, South Africa’s one-day form has gathered lots of momentum. Obviously, as we face up to them at Guyana’s Providence Stadium tomorrow, we are excited, particularly at the prospect of playing them in these conditions.
Though I have not seen the stadium yet, the conditions in Georgetown are pretty overcast, and I would imagine the playing conditions will suit our strengths rather than those of South Africa.
The pitch will most likely contain a good deal of moisture, though there is unlikely to be any great pace or bounce. There will, however, probably be quite a good deal of turn, leading me to my earlier assertion that we will see a fair bit of assistance to the Sri Lankan bowlers, more than to the South Africans.
Against Australia, South Africa looked in good form as they chased a huge target, as everyone who watched that match will know. Paradoxically, however, I think that will work to our advantage rather than theirs, because that game was played at St Kitts, on a small ground with short boundaries and a pancake-flat pitch.
Providence Stadium, however, will be another story, because my guess is that a more workmanlike approach will be required, particularly when Murali swings into action. Given that he can make most batsmen in the world look clueless, Murali should have a field day.
Over the past decade-and-a-half, South Africa have not really produced a spinner of international calibre, and though the depth of their batting line-up is one of their strengths, I believe our spin will control their innings.
Going into the Super Eights, it seems strange that we are without India and Pakistan. We were in a similar predicament at the Champions Trophy in India last year, and all I can say of teams in such situations, is that you should take care of the process rather than worry about the result. Of course, this suggestion comes too late in the day for India, but I have always maintained that it is the apparently insignificant processes that contribute to the overall outcome.
If you control these processes — like running the singles hard, rotating the strike, watching a particular bowler for signs of weakness, setting certain standards on the field — what I call the ‘one percent-ers’, the outcome usually takes care of itself. In contrast, if you are thinking of expectations back home, your lack of form, and such negative matters, chances are you are not concentrating on the actual issues at hand.
To return to our game against South Africa, we are slightly concerned by reports that it might rain here — unpredictable weather is always a worry in Guyana — but I guess South Africa have more to worry on that score, with both their matches against Bangladesh and Ireland to be played here! Should be interesting.