ICC T20 World Cup: South Africa has new heroes in its victory against the West Indies


South Africa’s Rassie van der Dussen spins a square as they chase the West Indies target of 144 at Dubai International Stadium.
Image credit: Reuters

Dubai: The day started on an unusual note for South Africa when the eleven players from both teams were announced yesterday. Quinton de Kock, the most accomplished drummer of their roster, had retired for “personal reasons” in their Super-12 game – reasons that did not remain personal for too long.

However, new heroes emerge in their eight-wicket victory over the West Indies, now putting the Double Champions campaign in jeopardy. Two losses in as many games and with the teams remaining to be played being Australia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, it’s hard to see the Caribbean save their campaign from here.

If South Africa had seemed underprepared as they traveled to Australia in their opener in Abu Dhabi, they had much to celebrate with their exit yesterday.

Skipper Temba Bavuma seemed to have arrived with a game plan to contain the West Indians at large. Opening the attack with Kagiso Rabada was Aiden Markram’s part-time rotation, and the ploy suddenly worked in the power play as the latter was able to contain openers Evin Lewis and Lendl Simmons.

Lewis quickly broke free to get a blazing half-century, but Proteas could still keep the pressure on with two quality spinners in the left arm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi and Keshav Maharaj. While Shamsi, the No. 1 ranked bowler in the T20s, has been the subject of a lot of scrutiny lately, left-arm orthodox Maharaj often goes under the radar. A tight line and flat trajectory helped him contain rival batsmen as the wickets fell at regular intervals.

There had been enough concern over how the South African stick, which folded for 118 against Australia, would withstand a competent attack. However, opener Reeza Hendricks was not fazed by the early loss of their captain and, with Rassie van der Dussen, the duo played mature and risk-free cricket to set up a valuable 57-point partnership for the second wicket and start the Piste pursuit.

Batting chef

Aiden Markram, one of the two most experienced drummers in this Proteas roster with David Miller in De Kock’s absence, played the role of a batting leader and reached a well-deserved and undefeated half-century.

Going forward, it remains to be seen how Cricket South Africa manages to handle the situation resulting from De Kock’s withdrawal.

They learned that the former captain did not participate in the knee strike – an action that goes against their directive to take a symbolic stand against racism and discrimination.

It’s time for the Rainbow Nation to hold on, not only for their campaign in this short-term tournament, but for the future as well!

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