Entertaining South Africa set for another dazzling show | Cricket - Hindustan Times
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Entertaining South Africa set for another dazzling show at ODI World Cup

By, Mumbai
Oct 23, 2023 10:33 PM IST

There’s no South African in the list of top five batters or bowlers but collectively, they have been unstoppable.

Ever since they made their ICC World Cup debut in 1992, the South Africans have always made for good viewing, predominantly due to their athleticism on the field. And, staying true to their reputation, they are once again proving to be the most entertaining side of the 2023 World Cup.

South Africa's Gerald Coetzee (L) speaks during a practice session(AFP)
South Africa's Gerald Coetzee (L) speaks during a practice session(AFP)

The Proteas’ batting line-up of Heinrich Klaasen, Aiden Markram, Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Rassie van der Dussen and David Miller has evoked fear in most bowling attacks this tournament. Their totals back the thrills they are providing: 428/5 versus Sri Lanka, 311/7 versus Australia and 399 versus England.

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There’s no South African in the list of top five batters or bowlers but collectively, they have been unstoppable. Their bowling unit dismissed Australia for 177 in Lucknow and bundled out England for 170 on a flat Wankhede deck in Mumbai.

They were unexpectedly jolted by Netherlands in their third game but regrouped quickly to hand England a hiding in sweltering Mumbai on Saturday, proving the shock Dutch defeat was nothing more than an off-day.

South African players appear to have warmed up well to the Indian conditions, cashing in on their Indian Premier League (IPL) experience to settle down early.

“I think we're fortunate with quite a few guys now being involved in the IPL. So, having experienced the various grounds, because each venue is quite different in terms of conditions, and having that experience now within the camp certainly helps us as a team," said stand-in captain Markram on the eve of their match against Bangladesh here.

Markram himself is an IPL regular, playing for and leading the Sunrisers Hyderabad. Quinton de Kock, their dashing wicketkeeper-batter, has played several IPL matches at the Wankhede for Mumbai Indians, among other franchises. Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Jansen, Tabraiz Shamsi, Miller have all been regulars in the Indian T20 league while most others from the squad have also been part of the tournament.

“I still think if you look at it generally, the wickets have been really good. We expected to come here and the wickets play pretty well . The build-up towards this World Cup was with that in mind. So that's pretty much where we're at. The experience of IPL players, I suppose, has really helped and the experience from guys in the management, the coaching staff that have played a lot of cricket here in India or coached in IPLs has also helped us a lot," said Markram.

It's certainly not a good time to face South Africa, especially at the same venue of their superb win a couple of days ago. Bangladesh will thus have their task cut out on Tuesday at Wankhede Stadium. Even more so since the struggling subcontinental side has suffered three defeats in four outings this World Cup.

However, with lessons learnt from their shock defeat at the hands of Netherlands, Markram said South Africa will not take any team lightly.

“I don't think you can ever say it's the perfect time to play anyone. I think we've all seen in this World Cup now that any team can beat any team on a given day and if you don't respect that fact, I think the game of cricket can really hurt you. So, tomorrow is an opportunity for us to take a bit of confidence that we took from England, but ultimately to try to replicate it. That's the challenge and that's what we're striving towards. And if we bring the right attitudes and the right intensities, we feel we give ourselves a good chance. It's never a guaranteed result at the end of it but it certainly aids us as a team to hopefully perform well,” said Markram.

Bangladesh will take heart from their record against South Africa, with three of the Proteas' six defeats to Bangladesh in ODIs coming in the last four years including a 21-run loss in the 2019 World Cup. Plus, news that their regular captain Shakib Al Hasan has looked fit in training and is set to be available for the game should be a boost.

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