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The South African cricket team at The Oval in 2008
The South African cricket team at The Oval in 2008

Strength

South Africa’s pace bowling department has been their biggest strength and that will be the one aspect that will test the other sides’ batting. In fact, given the current suspensions to Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif of Pakistan, it would only be fair to say that in Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Lonwobo Tsotsobe and Wayne Parnell are the best in the world. It will be their best aspect and how they turn out in the World Cup could go a long way in deciding how far the side goes.

 

Weakness

Overall, the side looks good in all departments of the game, batting, pace bowling and spinners. However, injuries have followed the side around a bit and that could take the sheen off their performances. Jacques Kallis, Graeme Smith, Steyn, Parnell and some of the others have had the worst of times because of fitness woes and that will be a cause for concern for some of them.

Opportunity

South Africa has had a good run in recent times and their team seems to be gelling well ever since the clean-up exercise of late-2009. Fortunately for them, the side has also played well in the sub-continental conditions, once considered a bane for them as they would struggle against the spin threat. For now, their players have had a good opportunity to be a part of the IPL and the Champions League and have sharpened their skills on Indian tracks – this should allow them a good opportunity to win it.

Threat

When one uses the words South Africa and World Cup in the same line, there is a presence of a third word that is usually there – chokers. South Africa’s ability to lose from situations not too many have heard of is a legend in the World Cups and that shows in their records – since their return to international sports in 1991, they have yet to win a World Cup tournament. In fact, they haven’t even entered the final of any. If the side can overcome this threat, they may be in with a good chance to go all the way.

Previous Record

As aforementioned, South Africa have yet to enter the final of a World Cup after having played in five editions of the tournament. In 1992, they got to the semi-finals where a rather silly rain rule threw them off, in 1996, they won all their games to get to the quarter-finals where a resurgent West Indian side beat them in one game and they were shown the door. In 1999, the side was expected to go all the way when they tied a heart-breaking game against Australia and were knocked out while in 2003, they failed to read the rules right. Australia were a far superior side in the 2007 World Cup in the semi-finals.

Expected Captain

Graeme Smith should lead the team.

Players to look out for

Apart from Steyn, the batsman to watch out for will be Hashim Amla. Amla has been in the form of his life and his rather cool demeanour provides the side a very good foundation at the top of the innings.