Key moments define Proteas’ perfect start

The Proteas narrowly beat Bangladesh on Monday and have one more game left during the group stages – Nepal on Saturday. | IANS

The Proteas narrowly beat Bangladesh on Monday and have one more game left during the group stages – Nepal on Saturday. | IANS

Published Jun 11, 2024



The Proteas’ journey to the top has been in free-flow mode and they have managed to solve the mystery of the Nassau County International Cricket Ground as they set their sights on Nepal and the Super 8s.

The Proteas left New York with their unbeaten record still intact. A place in the Super 8s is in sight, and a minnow highly capable of an upset will be the last obstacle as they look to extend their perfect start to the T20 World Cup and capture the elusive prize.

Prior to the tournament in the US and Caribbean, the expectation was that the first three matches, against Sri Lanka, the Netherlands and Bangladesh, would be tough for South Africa, while the match against minnows Nepal would be easier.

The tournament and pitches, especially in New York, have been anything but easy. Despite registering three victories on the trot, the Proteas have had to dig deep. Every encounter has been a low-scoring affair with its fair share of tense moments that they have managed to conquer so far.

Moving on from New York to the Caribbean, the Proteas’ next stop will be at Arnos Vale, St Vincent on Saturday against Nepal and with the Super 8 spot as good as confirmed, these are the four key moments from their tournament so far ...

Kagiso Rabada celebrates the wicket of Sri Lanka's Dasun Shanaka. | IANS

A lost toss but momentum gained

Former world champions Sri Lanka’s blunder at the toss in the opening fixture, in unknown territory, cost them dearly as they have never recovered from their six- wickets loss against the Proteas.

The bowler-friendly conditions allowed the South African quicks to bounce the Lions out for 77 in 19.1 overs, and gain much-needed confidence and momentum, especially after a tough build-up to the tournament. The batters knew what to expect heading into the second innings and the rest of their time in New York.

David Miller and Heinrich Klassen have been the driving force behind the Proteas victories. | IANS

Adjusting from the back foot

The loss of wickets in the power play has exposed the middle order to tough batting conditions and the new ball with a pressing need to survive in order to post a defendable or winning score.

The recoveries by the trio of Tristan Stubbs, Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller played a huge role in the three victories. The shift from their natural game, and their ability to adjust to match situations could well benefit them again later in the tournament.

Anrich Nortje has been in devastating form in New York. | IANS

The bowling unit on the bounce

Anrich Nortje and the rest of the bowlers could be the only players sad to move on from New York. Coming into the tournament, the bowling unit was under pressure.

Nortje’s opening match against Sri Lanka laid all the doubts to rest, while Ottniel Baartman’s first-ball wicket showed he belonged and the stage could never be big enough for him, but having gone from the IPL sidelines straight to the heat of the battle up front, Marco Jansen has been just as impressive with the ball.

Mahmudullah of Bangladesh fell on the second-last ball against the Proteas in an attempt to win the game for his team. | IANS

A wind that finally blew in the right direction

South Africa’s history with ICC events has been a mixed bag without anything to show for it but promise in the beginning and disappointment at the end. Confident in their chase, Bangladesh were out to break their three-match losing streak against the Proteas on Monday.

Needing six runs to win with two balls remaining, a juicy Keshav Maharaj full toss met the middle of Mahmudullah Riyad’s bat and went sky high, with both sets of teams waiting in anticipation as the match depended on that play.

Aiden Markram was in the right place to grab on to a wind-assisted catch, to the disbelief of Mahmudullah and the rest of the Tigers. It could herald a change in fortune for the Proteas.