SOUTHAMPTON – South Africa have never played the Windies in a World Cup on English soil. They will hope that Monday’s maiden encounter is one they will remember fondly.
They simply don’t have any other choice. After three defeats in their opening three matches, Faf du Plessis’ team is virtually playing knockout cricket from hereon.
There are a myriad of reasons for their dismal position. The bowlers have broken down more than an old VW Beetle, the fielding has been dismal, and the batting unit are struggling to get out of a hole.
Coach Ottis Gibson has already laid down the gauntlet for his senior players to raise their performance levels in these crisis-stricken times. With Dale Steyn back home already, there is none more senior than Hashim Amla and South Africa are hoping “The Mighty Hash” rediscovers that magical touch that eluded him thus far this World Cup.
“Hash is an important figure. Everybody knows that. He knows that. So we do rely on him, just as we rely on everyone in the team. But I guess you could say we rely on him more,” Kagiso Rabada told the media yesterday.
“We know that he can, you know, produce magic out there on the field and he's been showing signs of it in the warm-up games and we are really hopeful that he can come off. I don't think its extra pressure for him. I think he copes with it. I think he's a really, really sound. He's got a sound mind. He’s a balanced individual. I think he knows what he has to do. As a teammate, we are there to support him. We know that he can, you know, produce magic out there on the field and he's been showing signs of it in the warm-up games and we are really hopeful that he can come off.”
Amla can’t do it all on his own though. He will need support from Quinton de Kock, Du Plessis, Rassie van der Dussen and likely Aiden Markram, who is expected to come into line-up here at his adopted home ground for either JP Duminy or David Miller.
And then the bowlers will still need to pitch up too. Rabada will, of course, lead from the front, but without Steyn and most likely Lungi Ngidi, the back-up seamers will need to play their part too.
It’s for this reason that he is excited that his Highveld Lions and Jozi Stars teammate Beuran Hendricks has joined up with the Proteas at the World Cup.
“Beuran is a really good bowler. I rate him a lot. Coming in as a lefty as well, it adds variety. I think he's got a lot of skill and he's played international cricket before, so he knows what it is about,” Rabada said.
“I've played with him, ever since I started playing professional cricket and against him as well. So I have seen enough for me to say that I'm really confident with him being in the team. And he always gives it his all.”