Wednesday, February 23, 2011

South Africa VS WestIndies LIVE 2011 world cup

New Delhi: Even after a recent series win over India and a comfortable pre-tournament victory over defending champion Australia, South Africa's talent-filled team still needs to prove it has the mental strength to claim a first World Cup title.

The Proteas again carry the tag of the tournament's biggest underachievers into this year's event and start against a team that has contributed before to their World Cup misery.

In 1996, West Indies pulled off a surprise quarterfinal win over the Proteas at the last World Cup on the subcontinent, lending an extra edge to Thursday's Group B game at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground.

It will also be the first match at the New Delhi venue since a one-day international in 2009 between India and Sri Lanka was abandoned because of a dangerous pitch.

South Africa has already had to fend off the 'chokers' tag here, with off-spinner Johan Botha this week calling the description "overused" and allrounder Jacques Kallis saying it is not something that affects the 2011 team.

"I think the word choker gets used far too often every time a team loses nowadays," Kallis said. "It is certainly not something that haunts us. We have a lot of young players ... so that doesn't even cross our mind. We don't worry about the past."

With key player Kallis back to full fitness after a niggling side injury, South Africa has no obvious weakness in its lineup — apart from its tendency to mess up its World Cup campaigns.

Batsmen Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers occupy two of the top three places in the ODI batsmen rankings, Kallis is widely considered the best allrounder in the world and Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel form one of the game's most feared fast bowling combinations.

Even spin, crucial on subcontinental pitches and often South Africa's weakness, is now well-covered by Botha, left-armer Robin Peterson and Pakistan-born legspinner Imran Tahir — who South Africa has high hopes for.

The Proteas trounced West Indies 5-0 in the Caribbean in the last ODI series between them in early 2010.

But South Africa's previous World Cup jitters will provide West Indies with something to focus on in both countries' tournament opener, according to allrounder Dwayne Bravo.

Along with the '96 slip against West Indies, South Africa has lost semifinals in 1992, 1999 and 2007 and made a farcical exit from its home tournament in 2003 when a run rate miscalculation resulted in its elimination in the first round.

"South Africa will be under pressure for not having won the World Cup, Bravo said, "and we have our confidence very high. I know our guys are ready and looking forward to this game."

West Indies believe they are better than a rank outsider to win the competition — and Thursday's game — and much better than their dismal recent form suggests.

West Indies last beat a major team in an ODI series in 2008, but Bravo and coach Ottis Gibson picked out an array of experienced allrounders in the Caribbean team who all have matchwinning ability.

Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, captain Darren Sammy and vice-captain Bravo will worry South Africa, along with experienced batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul and young fast bowler Kemar Roach.

"Our chances are as good as any other team," Bravo said. "Winning a World Cup is about the team playing good on a particular day. We have an allround team and allrounders are very important.

"Captain Sammy, Pollard, myself and Chris Gayle are all top quality allrounders and any two of us getting a good game could put us in a position to win a game."

Gibson said if his important players performed, West Indies had a "fantastic chance" of doing well in the tournament.

Organizers hope the Feroz Shah Kotla, which was re-laid following the 2009 debacle, will hold up and Kallis said it was the first real chance for South Africa to show off a newfound variety in its bowling attack — which has historically been pace-driven.

"For the first time we can play in any conditions or on any wicket," Kallis said. "We have good fast bowlers, who have produced the goods in the last few years, and we have got some interesting spinners.

"From that point of view we have got our bases covered and we just need to produce the goods now."

No comments: