South African cricketing legend Shaun Pollock believes his compatriots could be timing their run to perfection in a bid for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup trophy in Australia.
Speaking on the latest ICC Review with Brian Murgatroyd after South Africa’s victory over India to push on in their hopes for an elusive global tournament, Pollock, watching on as one of the event's commentators, feels his former team are happy to go “under the radar."
The side shared the points with Zimbabwe in their first outing, but have shown their credentials with an emphatic win over Bangladesh at the SCG, before backing it up with a tight final-over victory against India in Perth.
Pollock feels the Proteas are in the conversation as contenders for the trophy, though it may not have been perceived to be the case before the tournament.
“The fact that they've come in maybe with people not writing them up as much as they could, I think there's definitely been an effect of South Africa trending in the right direction," Pollock said.
“We've seen them over the last 18 months start to show a little bit of firepower and start to show some grit and determination.”
Taking 408 international white-ball wickets, of which 15 came in 12 T20I appearances at the backend of his career, Pollock is a good judge of bowling talent across the competition, and he rates the South African attack up there with the best.
“Bowling-wise, I've never been concerned (for South Africa). We've got plenty of fast bowling options. You even got a (Marco) Jansen sitting on the sidelines, the four quicks that they used (in Perth), plus (Keshav) Maharaj and (Tabraiz) Shamsi," he said.
“We've got all bases covered there.”
Despite the undefeated start, the former all-rounder feels the side are not the finished product, and looks for stronger output from the batting department to solidify South Africa's bid.
"I think the challenge for South Africa has always been, 'which are the six or seven that are going to come good from a batting perspective'? And it was a huge blow to lose Rassie van der Dussen before the tournament because he had played superbly well."
“I can still see a possibility of an improvement. As I say, this victory (over India) is a huge boost.”
Though there is one glaring issue in South Africa’s side that isn’t quite up to the mark as yet: skipper Temba Bavuma's poor run of form with bat in hand.
Pollock likened the malaise to Australian skipper Aaron Finch, who managed to find a groove against Ireland in Brisbane on Monday, making a half-century.
"It's a shame, you feel for the guy. From a captaincy perspective, he is obviously manoeuvring his troops as best he possibly can, but there's not one captain in the world who doesn't like to lead from the front with regards to performance, and he hasn't been able to hit his straps," Pollock noted.
"The pressure for him is no doubt building. He's an individual. He's a human being. He understands what he wants. To perform in that he hasn't managed to click as of yet, and he would love nothing better than to to have a little match winning 40 or 50 and to take his team over the line and win a couple of games."
South Africa face a desperate Pakistan on Thursday, and their opponents will be keen to notch a victory following narrow losses to India and Zimbabwe at the start of the Super 12 stage.
Pollock believes South Africa's result against India will galvanise the team and the Proteas great even jokingly found silver linings in the rain clouds that once again threatened his former team's chances.
"We're probably the best ones to validate that little small margins can have a big difference. And (against India), it was a case where small margins went for South Africa," he said.
"And maybe the fact that the first game was rained out against Zimbabwe meant we got a rain encounter with the World Cup over early, and we can just have some good weather going forward."
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