South Africa have immense potential to go deep in ICC events, but unfortunately, in the T20 Cup, they still haven’t made a final. Their best performances in this tournament were in 2009 and 2014 when they made it into the semi-finals.
Going into this edition, South Africa, led by Temba Bavuma, has already had a setback in the form of their joint-highest wicket of the previous edition; Dwaine Pretorius has been ruled out due to injury. They have announced that Marco Jansen as his replacement.
South Africa are in Group 2 alongside India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and two more teams will be decided through the qualifiers. While they are not considered as favourite, they can upset a few teams and can turn out to be a dark horse in the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup. Let’s look at why South Africa are a dark horse going into this World Cup edition.
#1 Bowling attack apt for Australian conditions
The South African pace battery of Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi, Wayne Parnell, and Marco Jansen will be a threat to any team as they all have different skill sets that they bring to the table.
All three of Rabada, Ngidi, and Nortje can bowl at 140+ kmph and extract bounce from the surfaces making it difficult for the batter to face them on the Australian pitches. The left-arm duo of Parnell and Jansen can swing the bowl and create angles that can trouble batters.
In addition to that, all bowlers have various variations, making them difficult to read. This strong pace battery, complemented by their two spinners, Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi, makes their bowling attack lethal. Both spinners can be economical, as well as pick up wickets in the middle overs. A well-rounded bowling attack like theirs has the potential to pick up 10 wickets in every game.
#2 Experienced T20 players in the side:
Several South African players like David Miller, Quintin de Kock, Rillie Rossouw, Aiden Markram, and Kagiso Rabada have played T20 cricket across the globe for various leagues. This has allowed them to be in an array of pressure situations and adapt to them.
The experience of playing in leagues like the IPL, BBL, PSL, etc., has enhanced their skills and capabilities as players and their ability to be under pressure and handle such situations. South Africa also allow the players to familiarize themselves with the conditions. Plus, some players have represented many teams in the BBL, so they already better understand the pitches over there.
#3 Several Match winners and in-form players
The South African squad comprises several match-winners who have stood up for the team in various situations in this format in 2022. Every match has seen a different player contributing to the team’s cause. There is no reliance on a single player for them; each can single-handedly take the Proteas across the finish line.
For instance, Rillie Rossouw played a crucial knock of 96 and 100 against England and India, respectively, contributing to the team’s victory. Reeza Hendricks has consistently scored runs at the top of the order whenever given an opportunity.
David Miller, on the other hand, has rediscovered his mojo and is continuously providing the finishing touches. A player cannot be forgotten to be mentioned. His aggressive batting style allows him to constantly pressure the opposition and takes the game away from them before they realize it.
Even though they aren’t one of the front runners to lift the trophy, they can become party spoilers for other teams. The Proteas in the previous edition missed out on the spot in the semi-finals due to the net run rate, which shows how fine the margins are in this tournament.
South Africa will begin their T20 World Cup campaign on October 24 against the team who finished 1st in Group B of the qualifiers.