ICC World Twenty20
Proteas set to face bogey side
Cape Town - South Africa, barely having raised a sweat in the ICC World Twenty20 tournament in Sri Lanka yet, have to wait until Friday for their next fixture... probably against Pakistan.
If the Pakistanis, the most successful side in the relatively short history of this event from a consistency point of view, qualify from their group - also featuring New Zealand and Bangladesh - these teams will lock horns in Colombo (12:00 SA time) in the Super Eights phase.
Pakistan are late starters to the 2012 tournament, finally getting in the action against the Black Caps on Sunday (victory there will already ensure the Proteas encounter) and then wrapping up their group obligations against limited Bangladesh on Tuesday.
They have proved notably troublesome to South Africa before, knocking them out of the 2009 semi-finals in England (Pakistan went on to bag the trophy) and repeating the trick, albeit this time at the group stage, in the Caribbean in 2010.
At least this likely, initial Super Eights game will not be of the knockout kind, and AB de Villiers’s team ought to enter it in buoyant spirits anyway, after the brutal manner in which they have trounced both Zimbabwe and hosts Sri Lanka in Hambantota.
Of slight concern, perhaps - and it is really their undeserved “punishment” for blowing away their first two opponents so easily - is that the Proteas are not yet getting the sort of temperament-testing workouts they probably need.
The Zimbabwe match was over in the blink of an eye because South Africa got to their target so quickly and with only two batsmen employed, whilst Saturday’s fixture was curtailed to a seven-overs-a-side farce by bad weather.
That said, the Proteas again showed refreshing all-round intensity and efficiency in going about the dubious job - winning by 32 runs in such an ultra-squeezed contest speaks volumes.
De Villiers first led from the front with a hurricane innings of 30 off 13 balls to ensure a formidable total, and then the game was pretty much sealed as quickly as two overs into the Sri Lankan reply because of the disciplined aggression and mix-it-up skill once more of pacemen Morné Morkel and Dale Steyn
With the ‘Lankans quickly put back on their heels at eight for two after those two overs, there really seemed no way back.
Steyn’s full-complement (if you can really call it that!) analysis of 2-0-10-2 means that his tournament figures currently read 3/19 in six overs - an admirable economy rate of a fraction above three runs to the over.
In many respects it can be said that South Africa have had their group-phase “net” and now prepare for what the ICC must be praying really does turn into a Super Eights real deal.
The tournament has been disappointingly tame and soulless for the most part thus far, the group combat simply eliminating certain minnows all too rapidly and sadly leaving some dead-rubber games that oughtn’t be that under a better format: Sri Lanka v South Africa and Sunday’s India v England match-up being cases in point.
Some critics are also questioning the value of having the tournament so often: there have been four ICC World T20s in five years, suggesting greedy strangulation of an intended golden goose.
A more typical World Cup cycle of every four years is beginning to look a preferable way to go, though maybe that is talking a tad too soon...
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