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SA hope Quinton de Kock continues to soar

Jun 20, 2024 08:26 PM IST

The left-hander had a tough start to the tournament but he is now starting to come into his own

At the 2023 ODI World Cup, Quinton de Kock showed what he can achieve when he shuts out the outside noise and completely focusses on the job at hand. During the course of his career, the 31-year-old had moments of brilliance but was never able to find sustained excellence.

South Africa's Quinton de Kock plays a shot during the ICC men's Twenty20 World Cup 2024 Super Eight cricket match between the United States and South Africa at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound(AFP)

But being his last tournament in the 50-overs format in South Africa colours, he was determined to leave a mark and he did that by playing with a single-minded approach. Result: in 10 games he smashed four hundreds to power South Africa to the semi-finals.

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In all probability, the 2024 ICC T20 Men's World Cup is going to be the keeper-batter's last international assignment, and the cricket world was expecting a similar show from the talented cricketer.

But to his, and his team's, frustration, he started the tournament sluggishly. In the league stage, De Kock had scores of 20, 0, 18 and 10 in his first four outings. SA finished top of their group with four wins out four but all were low-scoring encounters.

This left everyone wondering over what happened to the big guns of SA who were expected to set the tournament afire with their power-hitting? Having said that, they played three of their four league games in New York, where batting conditions were far from ideal.

De Kock and his teammates simply couldn't wait for the real action to begin in the Super 8s in the Caribbean. It came as no surprise then that in the first game the Proteas got to play in better conditions in North Sound, Antigua, on Wednesday, De Kock fully flexed his muscles and took full toll of the inexperienced United States of America bowlers with a swashbuckling 74 (40b; 7x4, 5x6).

It was an important innings because the top-order batter hadn't got runs in the lead up to the World Cup as well, having a subdued IPL for Lucknow Super Giants where he got just 250 runs in 11 innings at 22.73.

De Kock is a player who loves tbe ball coming on to the bat and the pitch at the Sir Vivian Richards National Stadium was a better surface than the ones they had played on in America.

But with the USA bowlers bowling with discipline, there were no easy runs on offer. De Kock broke the shackles by attacking the length delivery through use of his feet and adjusting his body weight. Pacer Jasdeep Singh bore the brunt of this tactic in the fourth over of the innings with the left-hander hitting three sixes and a four to plunder 28 runs.

From 17/1 after three overs, he helped lift the total to 64/1 in six overs, racing to 41 off 18 balls. The dynamic southpaw romped to 50 from just 26 balls with the Proteas racing to 101/1 at the halfway stage of the innings. He finally fell at the total of 126, unable to get hold off a full toss from spinner Harmeet Singh at the start of the 13th over.

SA finished on a total of 194/4 and clearly looks like a different batting unit when De Kock is firing on all cylinders. His innings is an ideal boost for SA ahead of their big battle against England to be played at St Lucia on Friday.

The pitch at Gros Islet is full of runs and the game is set to be a power-hitting treat. SA will again expect De Kock to take the lead.

After picking his man of the match award, the opening batter acknowledged he has a lot more to do in the tournament. "We've had some tricky wickets so it was nice to spend sometime in the middle today (Wednesday). We've still got a couple more games to win. Different venue, different surfaces. Never know what you're going to get out there," De Kock said.

His captain, Aiden Markram, knows better than to tell De Kock what to do. As he had said during the last World Cup. “We all know Quinton to be the free-spirited guy that he is, but he actually has a fantastic cricket brain on him. And then you never want to clip his wings really. You just want to let him fly.”

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