Team South Africa ICC World Twenty20 2016 Tournament Preview & Guide
A formidable unit with all bases covered, the AB de Villiers factor could deliver the world triumph that the team desires
11 March 2016 17:13
History: In the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in 2007, South Africa was unbeaten till its match against India, its last of the Super 8s. A heavy defeat, by 37 runs, meant the team was beaten to a semifinal spot on net run-rate by New Zealand. In 2009, South Africa was unbeaten in its run to the semifinal, but lost to Pakistan by just seven runs. In 2010 and 2012, South Africa failed to make the semifinals, but in 2014, it was stopped in the last four once again, with Virat Kohli leading a clinical Indian chase.
Group: South Africa is in Group 1 alongside England, Sri Lanka, West Indies and the team that qualifies from Group B.
Captain: Faf du Plessis
Coach: Russell Domingo
Preview: South Africa is possibly the most all-round team in the ICC World Twenty20 2016. From the outside, there isn’t much of a weakness in the squad. It has incisive bowlers who can strike with both pace and spin, batsmen who can win matches on their own, and allrounders that lend depth and balance. South Africa’s fielding, like always, will set standards at the tournament for others to aspire to. Its recent Twenty20 International form has also been good, even though it was on the wrong end of a close 2-1 result against Australia in the immediate lead-up to the World T20. But that was a series that could have gone either way, and nearly did too. Right before that, South Africa had beaten a strong England side 2-0. The conditions in India will be different, but the majority of the South African squad are well-versed with the grounds and have had success playing for IPL teams and when they have visited for bilateral series.
Strengths: Any side that possessing AB de Villiers will list that as its primary, and most powerful, strength. But while de Villiers is capable of doing whatever he wants to on a cricket field, South Africa isn’t a one-man army. Backing up de Villiers are batsman of the class and calibre of Faf du Plessis, the captain, Hashim Amla and David Miller. Then there’s Dale Steyn – in many ways the bowling equivalent to de Villiers – who is back from injury and raring to go. Steyn has been his generation’s outstanding fast bowler, clearly a cut above the rest, and he’s among the few to have cracked the code of bowling on the subcontinent. The emergence of Chris Morris as an allrounder of power and Imran Tahir as among the foremost spinners in the game lends completeness to the side.
Recent form: Lost to Australia by six wickets; Lost to Australia by five wickets; beat Australia by three wickets; beat England by nine wickets; beat England by three wickets.
Star Player: AB de Villiers
There is nothing that can be said or written about AB de Villiers that hasn’t already been inked or uttered. At the same time, such is the marvel that the man brings, you can never exhaust adjectives and vocabularies when discussing him. By common consensus – especially among his peers and rivals – de Villiers is the greatest batsman in the modern game. He has hit a 31-ball century in ODIs – and the mind boggles when you think of the limitless range he can bring into play in a T20I. Of late, he has started to come up the order for South Africa, giving him the most time to make use of the 20 overs at the team’s disposal. If the elements fall in place, there is no bowler or force on earth that will be able to stop a rampaging AB, and he is among the very few candidates in world cricket who can be burdened with the task of winning a global tournament for his team by himself.
One to Watch: Kagiso Rabada
Kagiso Rabada first came to attention during the ICC Under-19 World Cup in 2014, the searing pace on the flat pitches of Dubai marking him out as one of those most likely to make the transition to international cricket. Rabada has proven observers right, and quite spectacularly too. A natural athlete, the 20-year-old can hustle the best of batsmen with his pace, while his accuracy means runs are never easy to come by. Most important of all, he strikes often, giving his team the breakthrough more often than not. With Dale Steyn spending a lot of time on the sidelines due to injuries in recent months, Rabada has stepped up to fill the breach magnificently. With Steyn now back, the young turk will only benefit more by bowling alongside his idol.
#That6 Hitter: David Miller
Ever since he emerged as among the most powerful strikers of the cricket ball, David Miller’s mantra – taught to him by his father – of ‘If it’s in the arc, hit it out of the park. If it’s in the vee, it goes in the tree’ has defined his batting with minimum words and maximum effect. Miller has cleared the fence 28 times in the 36 occasions he has had to bat in a T20I, and has a strike-rate of 133.03 in the shortest format. He often comes in when the need of the hour is to tee off from ball one, and when he gets in early, it is invariably because South Africa has lost more wickets than it would have wanted. In spite of the tough spot he bats in, Miller has delivered for South Africa, and even notched his first half-century in a T20I in its last series against Australia.
AB de Villiers holds the record for the fastest fifty, the fastest hundred and the fastest 150 in ODIs, getting to the landmarks off 16 balls, 31 balls and 64 balls respectively.
Among countries who have played at least 10 World T20 matches, South Africa’s winning percentage of 62 (winning 16 out of 26 matches) is the third best behind Sri Lanka and India.
South Africa is one of only two teams to score 200-plus twice in World T20s, piling up 211 for 5 against Scotland in 2009 and 208 for 2 against West Indies in 2007.
The 208 for 2 against West Indies in 2007 remains the highest successful chase in a World T20 match.
Key Match: v West Indies, March 25, VCA Stadium, Nagpur
South Africa and West Indies haven’t crossed paths in a World T20 since their second meeting in 2009. In their first encounter in 2007, a Chris Gayle century had powered West Indies to 205 for 6, but Herschelle Gibbs’s 90 fired South Africa to an eight-wicket win in just 17.4 overs. South Africa won the second match too, by 20 runs in 2009. Since then, the West Indies side has emerged as a bonafide T20 powerhouse, and it is one of the few sides who have the dash of flair and unpredictability that can topple the most formidable outfits. In the group, South Africa will be favoured to beat England given recent results, as well as Sri Lanka and the Group B qualifier. If it can get past West Indies too, it will have a very real chance of topping the group.
What People are saying about them
“We are one of the most consistent sides in this format. We can go there very confident. We have prepared very well. We have some of the best players in the world. We've got a seriously good side.” – Russell Domingo.
“It’s all about momentum going into that World Cup and as a team we have done well over the last couple of months. Personally, it’s special to perform and win the game and to take it home for the boys.” – David Miller.
“We've planned for two years for this World Cup… I've tried to make sure that everyone in the team nails down their roles and repeatedly get chances so they get better in that role.” – Faf du Plessis.
Pommie Mbangwa Prediction – South Africa: Winners! Theirs is a side that contains quite a few game breakers (AB DeVilliers, Quinton De Kock, Hashim Amla David Miller, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada) and as was the case in the 50 over Cricket World Cup, they have a big opportunity of becoming champions. The question is will they be bold enough under pressure. I see them getting to the final would not bet against them winning it against India. Faf Du Plessis will also welcome Dale Steyn back with open arms but he and the management must choose wisely who makes the eleven as theirs might well be a problem of plenty. As I say, another huge chance for them to go all the way.
Squad: Faf du Plessis (capt), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wk), AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Chris Morris, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn, David Wiese.
Friday, March 18: v England, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai.
Sunday, March 20: v Group B winner, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai,
Friday, March 25: v West Indies, VCA Stadium, Nagpur.
Monday, March 28: v Sri Lanka, Ferozeshah Kotla, New Delhi.