All to play for in South Africa-West Indies clash

South Africa will bank on their recent form and fitness of key player Jacques Kallis when they take on an unpredictable West Indies in their opening World Cup clash on Thursday.

The South Africans enter this Group B match on the back of 11 consecutive one-day wins against Ottis Gibson’s side and a 3-2 series victory over India at home.

With Kallis declaring himself fully fit and ready to resume his all-round duties, South Africa appear a formidable side.

But what Grame Smith’s men should avoid is trying too hard to prove that they have left behind the baggage of their past and were capable of delivering the goods in crunch situations.

The South Africans have perplexed their fans, showing an ability to play top-notch cricket but still leaving them waiting for a first World Cup.

South Africa’s failure to qualify for the second round at home in 2003 cost Shaun Pollock the captaincy and his successor, Smith, led a largely lacklustre campaign in the West Indies in 2007.

Although South Africa reached the semifinals for the third time, it was no surprise when they were beaten by a strong Australian team.

“A lot is made in the media about the choker thing,” said Kallis, playing his fifth World Cup.

“We don’t even think about it. I think the media uses this tag far too often, in fact every time the team loses a match.

‘Key is to get a good start’
“They should go and look up the meaning of chokers in the dictionary first. This tag does not haunt us. Eleven of our 15 players will be playing their first World Cup so it’s not something we are even thinking about.”

The Proteas also boast a surprise weapon in Pakistan-born leg-spinner Imran Tahir, who gave a good account of himself in the practice matches.

The West Indies will have their work cut out against their in-form opponents brimming with quality batsmen and bowlers.

With two of their first-choice players ruled out due to injuries, the Caribbean side will look to the experienced members of the squad to inspire them to an upset win.

If the attacking Chris Gayle can give the side a flying start, it will make the job of Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan down the order a lot easier.

“The key is to get a good start,” said Gayle. “We are playing one of the favourites in South Africa and they are a top quality side in both batting and bowling.

“We have to be on top of our game and capitalise on opportunities. They are beatable.”

Gayle’s confidence likely stems from West Indies’ record against South Africa on the big stage. The West Indies shocked South Africa in the 1996 World Cup quarter-finals and have done so twice in the Champions Trophy.

The day-night match will be played at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground, hosting its first international after being banned in 2009 for producing a dangerous pitch during an India-Sri Lanka one-dayer. – AFP

For all the latest Cricket World Cup news, in-depth features, match reports, scoreboards and more click here:

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Abhaya Srivastava
Abhaya Srivastava is Agence France Presses South Asia special correspondent.

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Bomb scare at parliament

The bag suspected of containing a bomb belonged to a parliamentary staff member and was harmless

The slings and arrows of advocate Malesela Teffo’s outrageous fortunes

Now that he has withdrawn from the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial, will the promise of justice for the Meyiwa family be kept?

Digital ‘disruptor’ eats jobs at SA banks amid unemployment crisis

With fewer people visiting branches, opting to seek services online, something has to give

London’s changed – including the climate

The local shops have been replaced by chain stores, the skyline has new features, the digital age stops communication and the green parks are dry and brown

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…