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ICC World Cup 2019: Washout could leave South Africa World Cup hopes down the drain

South Africa’s hopes of a semi-final place at the ICC World Cup appear to have been washed out along with their fixture against the West Indies at the Rose Bowl on Monday.

cricket Updated: Jun 10, 2019 23:26 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Somshuvra Laha
Hindustan Times, Southampton
ICC World Cup 2019,South Africa,West Indies
Ground staff roll out rain covers on the pitch after rain stopped play during the ICC World Cup match between South Africa and West Indies.(AP)

Rain rarely brings good news for South Africa. If the controversial rain rule led to South Africa’s shocking ouster in 1992 and 2003, this time it has pushed them to the precipice of an embarrassing exit in the group stage of the World Cup. They get one point after their match against West Indies was abandoned due to rain, but are left with the tall ask of winning the remaining five league matches and hope a few other results go their way for an improbable semi-final entry.

Till the time they were on the field though, South Africa didn’t give off any vibe of a hope-inducing comeback. Sheldon Cottrell marched down the pitch and saluted twice in the space of 20 deliveries to scupper South Africa’s ambition of starting well. Caught between trying to cut and slash, Hashim Amla was overwhelmed by Cottrell’s pace and gave a chest-high catch to Chris Gayle in the slips. Aiden Markram tried to flick a short delivery but edged to wicket-keeper Shai Hope. Faf du Plessis did not open his account despite facing seven deliveries, showing the extent to which Windies dominated them.

What could have been an opportunity for West Indies to further test the mental strength of South Africa after three consecutive defeats and a nightmare start here turned into a damp squib. South Africa are still surviving, but just. “These are the worst. Both teams wanted to play and get results but you can’t control the weather. For us it was important on a day like this to start without losing many wickets. It’s like Test cricket. But they did well to get two,” said du Plessis after the abandonement. Du Plessis however admitted getting one point was better than playing a curtailed match. “The further the game goes, the closer to a T20 game, being two down already, the odds are heavily in their favour. As it got a bit later in the day, you would rather get the point and go,” he said.

ALSO READ: South Africa vs West Indies Highlights, ICC World Cup 2019: Match abandoned due to rain

The weather forecast for this week doesn’t bode well for the biggest ICC tournament. A Sunday Telegraph report forecast it would be the wettest June on record. Flood warnings have already been sounded in south-east England. Barring the 1987 edition—held in October-November—no World Cup been scheduled this late. Of the four previous editions hosted by England, only the 1983 World Cup went till June 25. This time, the final is scheduled on July 14. June and July normally has the maximum rain in England.

Within 12 days of the tournament, two matches have been abandoned (Pakistan vs Sri Lanka was the other) and another curtailed. Few more could be affected. Teams won’t be blamed for believing that splitting points is better than chasing an altered target based on a complicated equation. All this begs the question why the International Cricket Council (ICC) slotted the World Cup at a time when most games could be affected by rain. The window allotted to Indian Premier League— it ended on May 12—plays a major part in the scheduling but the franchise league has been around for a while. If the 2015 World Cup could have been scheduled before IPL, the same logic could have applied here as well. Question is did the ICC even consider it?

AB called me: Faf

The AB de Villiers controversy drags on. Du Plessis revealed on Monday that he received a phone call from him the day before the squad was announced. He also said de Villiers spoke to him during IPL. “It was just a conversation, a phone call the night before the team got announced. It was just a “this is what I’m feeling.” I said to him, “I think it is too late but I will check in with the coach and the selectors the next morning to get their opinion as the squad was already announced or picked.” But that day there was the announcement, when I spoke to the coach and selectors the next day, they all agreed it was way, way too late to change the team.”

First Published: Jun 10, 2019 21:47 IST