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
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
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 …
our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing