Proteas silence critics

2011-03-14 09:12

Eduan Roos

Nagpur – The Proteas’ excellent win over India at the Cricket World Cup has not only put their World Cup challenge back on track, but also silenced the critics all too eager to dismiss them as chokers.

Video: Biff on beating India

Video: Five wickets in 16 balls from the Proteas main strike bowler

“I said before the game that the team has an opportunity to change the perception that we can’t handle pressure and we did that on Saturday night,” said satisfied skipper Graeme Smith.

He was speaking moments after his side that completed a very impressive fight back to beat the home side by three wickets on Saturday.

Less than a week ago, the Proteas’ World Cup hopes took a blow when they dramatically lost by six runs to a spirited England team.

“We learned some valuable lessons from the game against the English, but never panicked and kept believing that we have the team to do the business when it really matters,” said Smith.

“Hopefully we won’t be called chokers again soon, or at least not until we have lost another game!”

He said that he had not previously experienced anything in 169 one-day matches like the batting onslaught from Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag in the first 15 overs.

The pair struck the most runs in the first 10 overs to date in this year’s tournament, piling on an incredible 142 in front of 50 000 loud spectators.

“The noise in those first 10 or 15 overs was incredible and I had to use one of our umpire referrals just to get the guys together for a talk,” said Smith.

“We could still scarcely hear one another, but I told them this is what cricket is about and we have to show that we deserve to be part of it.”

Smith admitted that he had flashbacks to the Proteas bowlers’ struggles in the 438-match against Australia.

“One of the guys said beforehand that it was the fifth anniversary of that game and when Sachin and Sehwag were batting like that, I thought we would have to chase more than 400 again,” he said.

“Fortunately we kept believing that one wicket would make a difference and possibly lead to another few tumbling. But to take their last nine for just 29 runs is something no-one expected.”

Even so, Smith said that the winning target of 297 was still a major challenge.

“The wicket was not nearly as easy to bat on as India made it look at the beginning and we knew that big partnerships would be crucial.

“Jacques Kallis (69) and Hashim Amla (61) did brilliantly to keep us within touching distance throughout and what the rest of the batsmen achieved after that is something I will probably never forget.”

AB de Villiers (52) and JP Duminy (23) gave impetus to what was then shaping as a probable Proteas win, before Morné van Wyk’s innings (5) and a quick 23 from Johan Botha appeared to be in vain.

However, it was an unbeaten partnership of 21 runs off just 11 balls between Faf du Plessis (25*) and Robin Peterson (18*) – and 13 off just four balls in the last over by the man from the Eastern Cape – that took the Proteas to glory.

“I am the proudest of how the guys stuck to the task when the chips were down and then ensured that they accelerate at just the right time,” said Smith.

“There is still a lot of planning and hard work that will be required for the rest of the tournament, but for now we will enjoy every moment of the day.”

South Africa next play Ireland in Kolkata on Tuesday.


  • Bulla - 2011-03-14 09:37

    Well done, boys!! The Proteas have now set themselves high standards for the rest of the tournament and have to believe that they can go all the way. I think Smith did well to keep the guys calm in that chaos. Cricket can be cruel but focus is the key for the games against Ireland and Bangladesh.

  • seeps.mazi - 2011-03-14 09:41

    Well done Captain Smith or sticking to your guns and trying some new things like bowling JP in the Powerplay,taking the bowling powerplay and believing that Botes could stem the run flow it all worked a charm. Faf actually bowled really well to Sehwag and could have had him a lil earlier had van Wyk taken the catch. It took some ''balls'' to bring back Steyn when he did especially after how he had been carted around the park earlier in the day and big ups to Dale for coming back like the class act we all know he is. all in all a really measured performance including that powerplay we took just after JP came in. This shows we will be a little less predictable and are a lot better prepared for this tournament. People keep forgetting that we have a very decent record in India so this World Cup we can take.... Come on Proteas!!!

  • Zandberg - 2011-03-14 10:24

    I believe we saw Faf cross his rubicon. Man that guy impressed me with his calmness when the pressure was at its highest. Appart from van Wyk, each and every guy stood firm and showed metal. What a brilliant team performance.

  • Rudi - 2011-03-14 10:25

    “Hopefully we won’t be called chokers again soon, or at least not until we have lost another game!” Bad form from Protea supporters.

      Rudi - 2011-03-14 10:26

      Or rather "supporters"

  • resentphil - 2011-03-14 10:52

    Finally some comments that are a truer reflection of the game, and not these armchair idiots who think they're better batters / captains / selectors than anyone who's every played the game at international level. A strong victory, everyone contributed, and some great captaincy! Good stuff boys!

      aditya - 2011-03-18 22:13

      shut up .india thrashed them for about 40 overs indian losers just threw their wicket away except gambhir's wicket all were out due to bad shots or bad luck steyn morkal and kallis were crying like babys just go and watch replays and in the end on first ball of the last overs a boundary aqain with luck ; so pls shut up and please arrange few more players from other origin to play for ur so called countery as ur mothers cant even give birth to 11 good players. ha ha ha

  • El-Diablo - 2011-03-14 12:57

    I wish SA can flippen win when it MATTERS. But i doubt it.

  • SA 2011 CWC - 2011-03-14 13:27

    well done

  • MactheKnife - 2011-03-14 13:44

    Come to the death you will still choke, India sold the match. Come on all you SA fanatics when will you come to your senses.

      El-Diablo - 2011-03-14 15:29

      im with u sir.

      Andrew Griffiths - 2011-03-14 18:35

      The two of you should hook up, the chemistry is there for all to see.

      Andrew Griffiths - 2011-03-14 18:35

      Mac can be the wife.

      aditya - 2011-03-18 22:13

      very true a true person

      aditya - 2011-03-18 22:18

      and andrew will b there k.... cant write it down but he knows that

  • nick smout - 2011-03-14 14:00

    Well done guys ,I don't think it was Smiths best day , I think he waited to long to change the bowlers to spin allowing the score to get so high , The chokers title has always been in the final so please don't go making our guys favorites just yet, lets back them a game at a time, slowly climb the mountain and not run of the cliff...

      Ryanbrew - 2011-03-16 15:32

      If the chokers title comes from the finals, then we definitely dont deserve the title, cause we have never been to the final, but England have, 3 times... wonder who the real choker are then!!!

  • sandman - 2011-03-14 14:00

    Yeah I want to know what all those England match choker commenters have to say now!

  • Tawriq - 2011-03-14 23:55

    good luck for tomorrow boys, even tho u might not need it. show us that the proteas have that killer instinct powerfully displayed by the ausies of past. i'm sure we capable of doing it

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