Cricket World Cup 2011
Proteas revisit scene of crawl
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Graeme Smith (Gallo Images)
Cape Town – With respect to the Netherlands, South Africa really should win their second World Cup match comfortably on Thursday without worrying too much about pitch conditions or their brief, mixed heritage at Mohali.
For the record, though, the Proteas have only played two one-day internationals previously at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, and boast the contrasting experience of one crushing win and one especially galling, slow-death defeat.
They had the honour of being first international guests to grace the converted swamp area against India in 1993, soon after the venue was completed.
It was a match in the Hero Cup and they must have felt extremely chipper about their chances after bowling out India for 221, with Hansie Cronje’s nagging, gripping medium-pacers (3 for 29) choking the life out of the hosts.
But South Africa were still relative newcomers to internationals after isolation and they somehow dug themselves naively into a hole, finishing their 50 overs on 178 for nine and a scoring rate of just 3.56 to the over – only Jonty Rhodes with 56 got to grips with the slow track.
They had to wait some 13 years, to October 2006, for an opportunity to set the record straight at the venue and they did so in some style.
In an ICC Champions Trophy meeting with Pakistan, South Africa found that the surface had become rather more responsive to seam bowling, as they routed their opponents for 89 in a mere 25 overs in response to their own 213 for eight, for victory by 124 runs.
The Proteas had been in some peril themselves, slumping to 42 for five before Mark Boucher (69) and Justin Kemp (64) restored a lot of stability.
And on a surface described by the Wisden Almanack as “greenish with trampoline bounce ... more like Durban than the Punjab”, Makhaya Ntini (5 for 21) led the carnage by a four-man pace attack also comprising Shaun Pollock, Andre Nel and Charl Langeveldt.
Perhaps it is memories of that game – Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers are “survivors” from it – that have led to suggestions that the Proteas will beef up their seam arsenal against the Netherlands by including Lonwabo Tsotsobe at the expense of one of their trio of specialist spinners employed pretty successfully against West Indies ...