‘There will be pressure because it is a semi-final, but there is no reason why they cannot break new ground and take the team to the big dance for the first time,’ says former South Africa captain AB de Villiers.
South Africa have an aching relationship with World Cup semi-finals, dating back to 1992. AB de Villiers had a close encounter with heartbreak in 2015. Now, he is hopeful that the current team will finally absolve his country of all the past pain.
The Proteas face five-time champions Australia in the second semi-final of the 2023 World Cup at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Thursday.
“After all the pain and heartbreak, I really feel that now is our time. This is a team that is not carrying the weight of history.
“There will be pressure because it is a semi-final, but there is no reason why they cannot break new ground and take the team to the big dance for the first time,” said De Villiers in an ICC statement.
The former South African batter said Temba Bavuma should try to bat the Aussies out of the match should they get a chance to use the pitch first.
He added that South Africa can draw inspiration for their win over the Aussies in a league match in the tournament.
“The fact we got a huge win over the Aussies in the group stages should give the side confidence but this is a completely different scenario.
“We know the toss will be important. When South Africa batted first, they won big. They have topped 300 every time. Chasing has been trickier and there will be a few nerves if they are not able to bat Australia out of the game by halfway,” he said.
De Villiers also drew confidence from the fact that South Africa have a varied attack.
“The bowling attack is also spreading around the wickets. Marco Jansen and Lungi Ngidi can take wickets with the new ball, while Kagiso Rabada and Gerald Coetzee have come on and done damage.
“And that is before we move onto the spin of Keshav Maharaj. If those are the five that end up playing, they will pose Australia some real threats,” he noted.
However, Mr. 360 knows that writing off Australia, with Glenn Maxwell in their ranks, in a World Cup knock-out could only be disastrous.
“Australia are always strong and they have responded really well to losing their first two matches. Not that we needed reminding, but Glenn Maxwell’s knock against Afghanistan was ridiculous.
“It goes without saying that South Africa cannot afford to let him get his eye in.”
- World Cup 2023
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