Top-to-bottom Proteas feel heat

2016-06-14 17:01
AB de Villiers and Chris Morris (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Pressure is mounting on South Africa to avoid being odd one out as the final draws closer in the triangular one-day international series in the Caribbean.

Following what arguably amounted to an unfavourable result for the Proteas in St Kitts on Monday, with hosts West Indies beating Australia by four wickets, AB de Villiers’s side have slipped to the bottom of the table.

Only a few days ago, as they contemplated their own Warner Park date with the Aussies, South Africa led the standings, but by collapsing from a rosy position in that one and then seeing the Windies bag another win in the most recent tourney fixture, they suddenly bring up the rear in the reasonably volatile event.

The situation at present sees Australia (won two, lost two) boast nine points, West Indies shift up to second with eight (after only three matches, with two victories) whilst the Proteas trail with five points, also from three outings.

These are the net run rates, just in case those figures become influential in determining the participants in the June 26 final: Australia +0.416, West Indies -0.552, South Africa +0.002.

It will become a very cluttered, all-still-in-it log once more if South Africa can earn an urgently-needed triumph against the Windies on Wednesday (19:00 SA time).

But a second successive defeat on the St Kitts leg would see the Proteas drift further behind and be deemed strongest favourites to miss out on the showpiece – they would almost certainly have to win both their Barbados round-robin matches (that island also hosts the final) to keep alive any hopes of qualification.

Earning successive triumphs at famous Kensington Oval would not be beyond them, given a happy, unblemished track record in ODIs at the venue: three wins from three matches.

They have beaten the Windies twice there (by seven wickets in 2001 and one run in 2005, when current bowling coach Charl Langeveldt grabbed a dramatic 50th-over hat-trick) and thrashed England by nine wickets during the 2007 World Cup when Andrew Hall (5/18) led an England capitulation to 154 all out batting first.

But the Proteas will not wish to think quite that far ahead, preferring to focus on avenging their earlier loss to the hosts in Guyana before the circus quits St Kitts.

South Africa’s lone victory thus far was a bonus-point one against the Aussies in a low-scoring affair at Providence Stadium, so if they could somehow bag another “five-pointer” against the West Indians, they would automatically rocket back to the top of the standings with 10 points.

At this stage, though, even the basic four for the win would be considered a very healthy development, especially as the Proteas are grappling a mounting problem with the weakness of their lower-order batting.

One way to indirectly solve it, of course, would be for one or more of their front-line batsmen to post a really major score on Wednesday; so far the best individual effort over their three games has been Faf du Plessis’s 63 in Saturday’s last outing against the Aussies.

All of Farhaan Behardien, Hashim Amla and the now-injured Rilee Rossouw have also fallen victim to the unusual, get-out-in-the-sixties virus in the SA camp …

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    proteas  |  ab de villiers  |  cricket

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