Bizzare batting.Shattered dreams. Agonising moments. Captain quits after premature loss.That is story of the team which considered tournament favourites and had all the resources to win the tournament but couldn't get rid of their chokers tag. 5 times they reached to the knockout stage in Cricket World Cup.but never crossed the line, this reflects the entire picture of South African cricket since its return to the International Cricket. Now there will be definitely talks of lot of changes but I think Proteas have find ways to improve their luck.
Team which got whitewashed at the hands of India and Bangladesh few months ago and also lost the home series against Pakistan won the game simply because of its opposition's mistakes will now move to semis. Probably the biggest upset of the tournament. Kwis knocked out tournament favourites convincingly. This tournament unfolded with full of uncertainties so far and its difficult to say who will win the elite trophy. Any team which will play better cricket than its opposition on a day will win and now on there are no favourites with two tournament favourites in Australia and South Africa exited prematurely.
Looking at yesterdays match. South Africa started the game on a promising note they picked early wickets and put the pressure on Kiwi batting but Ryder had other ideas as he stuck at one end and kept picking up runs in the company of Ross Taylor and duo build the partnership of over 100 runs which provided some stability to the Kiwi innings.South Africa failed to pack a punch after to early wickets and John Wright's impressions were clearly visible in the batting of Kiwis. I think it was good strategy by Kiwis to build a partnership rather than going bang bang and losing wickets. Although it looked like Proteas will get them below 200 but young Williamson and Nathan McCullum helped Kiwis to achieve the score which can be considered competitive but not the winning score.
In the innings break everybody were assured of South Africa's win looking at their strong batting line-up and target of 222 looked easy on a pitch which was quite good for the batting but as the innings started Amla got out in a unfortunate way which is rarely seen in cricket but it happened and from there on indications were coming that day don't belong to South Africa because Kiwis scored 20 runs extra and Amla got out in unfortunate manner in the 3rd over. South African innings progressed with Smith-Kallis partnership and it looked like game is in the pocket of Proteas. But Proteas destiny took another twist and with 100 for 2 Proteas bowled out for just 172 runs and losing the match by 49 runs. Three incidents which clearly suggested that day didn't belong to South Africa. First one, Kiwis scored 20 runs extra, Second, Amla got out in a unfortunate manner and Third AB DeVilliers got run-out which rarely happens with the athlete like DeVilliers. So it was simply not the Proteas day and it was sad end to the promising team's journey. Smith quit from the captaincy right after the match. It was really disappointing for the Smith to quit on a losing note.
Kiwis bowled and fielded very well and grabbed the chances which came their way. Vettori's captaincy was also very impressive as he made South Africa earn their runs and put too much pressure by field placings and forced Proteas to take the risk and Proteas failed miserably by doing so. Normally you don't find Kallis getting out by playing such a reckless shot but pressure created by Vettori forced Kallis to play that kind of shot under the circumstances. New Zealand now in semis for the sixth time and it will be interesting to see that they will be able to cross the line this time or not.
Overall unpredictable contest and Proteas have to blame their destiny rather than their game because in yesterday's game everything was controlled from the heaven for the Proteas otherwise player like Amla don't get out in such unfortunate manner. If we talk about South Africa, I think they are not destined to win ICC tournaments. In 1992 they lost because of rain and rain came in when Proteas were very near to the victory but rain changed all the equation. In 1999 they got tied with Australia and thrown out of the tournament and yesterday 3 incidents happened where they were unlucky. It clearly suggests that South Africa's destiny is against them.
England will face Lankan challenge.
Today Lankans will take on English at Premdasa Stadium, Colombo. Lankans are favourites for the contest considering they are playing in their home conditions but remember they lost to Pakistan in a league match against all expectations at the very same venue and with Proteas loss against Kiwis yesterday nothing can be predicted. One factor that favours England is the way England survived in the tournament. I think they survived, so there must be something in store for them in the tournament.
Looking at Lankan side, They rely heavily on their top 4 batsmen. If England crack their top-order than it will be easy for the England to win the contest. Captain Sangakkara is in sublime form and he is the biggest threat to England. He is one man who can win game from any situation, so its important that England pick up Sangakkara as early as possible. Engalnd also have to win the toss because batting second in Premdasa and against the spinners like Murali, Mendis and Herath on a turning pitch will not going to be easy. So England have to win the toss. Malinga is bowling nicely and he will definitely pose threat to the top-order English batting. It takes a while to get used to the Malinga's so called 'Slinga' bowling action and remember he is the second bowler after Roach who picked up hat-trick in the tournament.
Lankans have Dilshan. Tharanga, Sangakkara and Jayawardene in their batting line-up who are quite experienced and very dangerous in their home conditions. Also England don't have too many spinners to take advantage of turning track. Engalnd possess Greame Swann who is No.1 spinner currently in ICC ranking but how effective he will be against Lankan batting which play spin well, that time will tell. Withdrawal of the left arm spinner Yardy due to depression is also a very big blow to England. England is already facing injury problems and now Yardy going out of the tournament will not go well with English side.
England have the batsmen who can do the job. Strauss as captain performing well with the bat and Bell, Trott, Morgan and Bopara are in reasonable form as well so things are not that bleak for England but Yardy incident have put England on the back-foot.One of Sangakkara's comments that was of interest is how he saw England as having a well-balanced side and one of the best in the tournament. Yet they have struggled and this is not just a matter, or even a question of the Michael Yardy departure from a stress-related problems. Whether is because he felt he wasn’t performing, as he should be is another matter.
Not too surprising, the British media were more interested in the Yardy story than the game which looms and is a chance for England to pull together a repeat of their ICC World T20 success in the Caribbean a year ago. It is a far from pleasant condition. In the case of Yardy, the stress concern is one, the player has to handle at such pressure areas of the game. The World Cup is one of them. More importantly now, is how England need to get their nose in front. These things are not always that easy. It is a matter of being focussed and application.
Overall, good contest in prospect and Sri Lanka will start as favourites because of their spinners but it will be known late in the evening who will emerge as winner and go to semis. Cricket is game of great uncertainties and anything can happen in this miraculous game.