South Africa team celebrating a wicket. ©ICC

South Africa had a breakout run in the World Cup in 2017. They reached the semi-finals, where they suffered a gut-wrenching defeat at the hands of the eventual champions, England. They will be eager to do better in the World Twenty-20 and claim the trophy for the first time. With a side that boasts both experienced campaigners and emerging stars, the South African unit seems ready to take home the prize.

 

Strengths:

South Africa has a strong batting line-up. Their team bats deep and has some consistent performers such as Dane van Niekerk and Mignon du Preez in their squad. They also have some of the most powerful batters going around in the women’s game, in opener Lizelle Lee and Chloe Tryon.

But perhaps South Africa’s greatest strength is their bowling. They have a prominent pace attack and one that is well-feared in the cricketing arena. Shabnim Ismail and Marizanne Kapp spearhead the attack, bowling well up front to pin back the batters in the Powerplay. Then, they do the same in the death, restricting the batters and not letting their side come under pressure from the opposition.

 

Key Players:

For South Africa, van Niekerk will no doubt be one of their most important players. She was one of the few batters who adjusted to the West Indian conditions well in their recently concluded tour. She will need to lead from the front with both bat and ball to keep her team energised throughout the tough tournament.

Furthermore, scoring runs quickly is the biggest facet in Twenty-20 cricket. No one does that better than Lee and Tryon. Both of them will also need to step up and deliver on the biggest stage if South Africa is to win. Trisha Chetty has also returned to the squad. Her contributions with the bat will be vital for South Africa too. But primarily, her skills with the glove will be much needed by her side.

As far as the bowling unit is concerned, van Niekerk herself said that the best bowling unit will win the tournament. For that, the South African bowlers, led by Ismail and Kapp will need to bowl accurately and with discipline. They will also need to follow their plans to a ‘T’.

 

Weaknesses:

South Africa have suffered a major dent in their plans, with their front-line spinner Raisibe Ntozakhe being ruled out of the tournament due to an illegal bowling action. This will cause some problems for the side as Saarah Smith, who has just been on one tour with the squad, will probably need to take over the role.

Another weakness in the South African squad is their inconsistency with the bat. They put in an underwhelming performance with the willow in their tour of West Indies. The senior players were unable to stabilize the innings. They need to address this issue before the World Twenty-20 because with the game being as competitive as it is at the moment, it does not seem like an average total will cut it.

 

Youngsters to Watch out for:

We saw Tumi Sekhukhune and Saarah Smith debut in the Caribbean tour. Both bowlers impressed. Sekhukhune bowled economically and exhibited good control of the ball. Smith shone in the Twenty-20 series, taking crucial wickets throughout and putting pressure on the batters by building dot balls.

Laura Wolvaardt is another youngster in the squad. But, she has already cemented her place in the side and is on the path of becoming a legend of the game. She does not need much of an introduction but, while the ODI format has suited her game more, she has worked in her off-time to improve her skills in Twenty-20 cricket. It will be interesting to see what new innovations she has brought to her game and how well she performs because of them.

 

Performances over the Last Editions:

South Africa are yet to make it to the finals of the tournament. They have though, reached the semi-finals once, in the 2014 edition, which took place in Bangladesh. They have been eliminated in the first round of the rest of the editions. Can they follow up their breakout run in the World Cup with one in the World Twenty-20?

 

Squad:

Dané van Niekerk (c), Chloe Tryon, Lizelle Lee, Suné Luus, Shabnim Ismail, Masabata Klaas, Mignon du Preez, Marizanne Kapp, Laura Wolvaardt,  Zintle Mali, Robyn Searle, Tumi Sekhukhune, Saarah Smith, Trisha Chetty

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