South Africa have been perennial underachievers in the history of World Cup tournaments. Since their readmission to cricket in 1992, they have managed to reach semifinals on four occasions (1992, 1999, 2007 and 2015). The rainbow nation has certainly produced world-class cricketers such as Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Jacques Kallis, and AB De Villiers.
South Africa have performed well in the World Cups but somehow they tend to falter at the last hurdle. For example, in the 1999 Cricket World Cup, South Africa capitulated badly after they needed only one run to qualify for the finals of the competition.
In 2015 Cricket World Cup, South Africa managed to break their voodoo and win a knockout game against Sri Lanka played at Sydney Cricket Ground. The side led by Faf du Plessis will be determined to break their trophy drought and get rid of ‘chokers’ tag that has been associated with them since the 1999 Cricket World Cup.
Currently, the squad announced has a good blend of youth and experience for this year’s World Cup. Kagiso Rabada, Quinton de Kock and David Miller are players that can certainly change the complexion of the game in space of few overs.
Let’s take a look at the three players that can help South Africa win their maiden World Cup this year.
Quinton de Kock
Wicket-keeper batsman is proven match-winner for South Africa in limited-overs cricket. He has the ability to play his shots and go after the bowlers in the Initial Powerplay overs. His glove-work has also improved significantly and would be keen to deliver his best in this year’s World Cup.
Since making his debut in limited-overs cricket, De Kock has scored 4249 runs in 101 matches at an average of 44.26 with 13 centuries to his name. He also became the youngest batsman to smashed three consecutive centuries in a row in limited-overs cricket.
He is one of the premier bowlers for South Africa in limited-overs cricket. Since his limited-overs debut against Bangladesh in 2015, Rabada has been a leading-wicket taker for South Africa with 106 wickets in 66 matches at an average of 26.43. He produced his career-best figures of 6 for 16 in his debut game for South Africa against Bangladesh played in Dhaka.
Rabada has delivered scintillating performances for South Africa across all three formats. His recent form has been phenomenal as he picked up 25 wickets for Delhi Capitals in this year’s Indian Premier League. He will be one player to watch out for South Africa in this year’s World Cup.
Kagiso Rabada will be determined to do well in his first World Cup for South Africa and would need to deliver his best to make South Africa break end their trophy drought in England this year.
Leg-spinner Imran Tahir made in limited-overs debut in 2011 and quickly established himself as one of the best spinners to play for South Africa in one-day internationals. Surprisingly, he made his one-day debut in the 2011 World Cup in the group game played against West Indies at Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi. He bowled exceedingly well and picked up four wickets to see South Africa register a comfortable victory.
Tahir finished the competition with 14 wickets in 5 matches at an average of 10.71. Since then, he has been a consistent performer for the side in limited-overs cricket. He has been South Africa’s go-to bowler when the captain needs to break a partnership and stem the flow of runs.
The 40-year old has a lot of variations in his bowling as he tends to keep the batsmen on his toes in the middle-overs of the innings.Imran Tahir has produced impressive numbers in limited-overs cricket and picked up 162 wickets in 98 matches at an average of 24.21. Currently, he is placed eleventh in the ICC ODI Rankings for bowlers.
Given that the surfaces in England will provide help to the spinners, Tahir will hold the key to South Africa’s chances in this year’s World Cup.