Confidence Boosting Victory for the Proteas

Written by  //  March 13, 2011  //  Sport  //  2 Comments

The thriller between India and South Africa contained many moments worthy of consideration as the chief turning point, the moment that tipped the balance in South Africa’s favour. Some would say India’s astonishing batting collapse aided no small measure by an inspired spell from Dale Steyn (five for 50) that saw it reduced from 267 for one to 296 all-out, represents that moment. Others would point to South Africa’s batting power-play in which it conjured 52 runs for the loss of only one wicket. India’s captain M.S. Dhoni, reckons South Africa’s fielding made the crucial difference – saved it at least 15 runs in his opinion. Maybe it was the Proteas’ approach to the chase – steady at the top with the fireworks following later that proved telling. But in truth, rarely is one single moment or phase of the game responsible for its outcome. Yesterday the sum total of India’s efforts in the field simply failed to weigh up. Mistakes were made, no doubt, but this is no disaster. The team needs to consider its frailties, endeavour to correct them and get on with its game.

More crucial, though, in the larger scheme of this World Cup is the confidence that South Africa may derive out of this victory. Having choked itself out of many World Cups in the past, the climax of this chase would have done little to sooth its nerves, but the result could banish many a demon from its players’ minds. With 13 to get off the last over, and with the team’s spine-tingling defeat against England fresh in memory, the prospect of a cruel World Cup exit would have been at the forefront of their thoughts. But Robin Peterson in flaying Ashish Nehra – albeit aided by a fortuitous inside edge off the first ball – ensured a South African victory that was far in keeping from its usual form at such crucial junctures. The chase could give the Proteas not only a faith in its talents, but could also ensure that it evades Australia – so often its nemesis – in the quarter-finals.

South Africa has been perennial World Cup underachievers. It has gone into virtually every edition since it made its debut in the tournament in 1992 as one of the favourites, only to come undone either by nasty bits of luck or a failure to hold its nerves at the most decisive of occasions. On the back of its failure to chase down 171 against England in an admittedly difficult wicket at Chepauk last week, its pursuit at Nagpur yesterday invoked several déjà vu moments, not least when Johan Botha having hammered 23 of 15 deliveries fell with 17 runs left to get. What transpired though was a rare piece of brilliance from Peterson.

Had Peterson and South Africa failed to cross the line, this may well have represented the end of the road for the country in this World Cup. No doubt its remaining two fixtures look easy enough on paper, but if it had been forced to play Ireland – a team that, if nothing else, has showcased that it belongs at this level – and Bangladesh – never an easy proposition in its own home – on the back of a defeat to India, it may have been left clutching at straws. As it stands, though, its remarkable chase against India may not only give it the impetus to top its Group but the confidence to win games under pressure in the knockout rounds. Ominous signs, indeed.

2 Comments on "Confidence Boosting Victory for the Proteas"

  1. Sudeshna Sengupta March 14, 2011 at 5:08 pm ·

    Certainly Suhrith, déjà vu moments for India too- snatching defeat from the mouth of victory. Oh! so familiar a tale. Indeed it was heartening for South Africa for many a true lover of the game still rue the spill-over Gibbs catch and the Donald fiasco. But for an Indian the agony continues.Ominous signs indeed.
    Your article reads very well.

  2. Suhrith March 15, 2011 at 2:14 am ·

    Thanks, Sudeshna

Comments are now closed for this article.