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SA are confident
by Sreelata Yellamrazu
Mar 21, 2007
South Africa has always been a nation brimming with confidence. But if there was one area where fear peeps ever so often, it seemed in the most awkward of battles against Australia. But this time promises to be different, at least for Graeme Smith.

It is not rocket science to know Australia and South Africa are sitting rather comfortably at the top of the table in the ‘A’ group while other teams from around the world are caught up in unending wrangles and ungainly tangles in a bid to make it to the Super 8’s. There is no such pressure on either South Africa or Australia and yet the battle between the two will be one keenly contested and anticipated.

It is not secret the drubbing that Australia was given by England and New Zealand in the year of the build up to the World Cup. But equally significant has been South Africa chasing down a massive target in excess of the 400 mark in a historic and epic battle at the Wanderers in Johannesburg. Australia looking to pulverize South Africa suddenly found themselves being pummeled by the hosts. It was the kind of match that cricket aficionados never tire watching the replays of or in relieving those savoury moments. Unfortunately Australia happened to be on the wrong side of it.

In the aftermath of that victory, South Africa has appeared unafraid. The apprehension has given way to a fortress like confidence and that is why this battle appears to be one that South Africa will look to take the battle to the former number ones, whom incidentally they toppled in the days ahead of the World Cup. Australia has more than a point or two to grind and grit their teeth about.

South Africa and daresay Graeme Smith would know better than to rest on past laurels. In fact, Graeme Smith is letting the mood and morale in the camp build with every win. After the debacle in the warm up match against Pakistan, Pakistan had simply drained away by their own performance and the mayhem following the untimely death of their coach and a much beloved man, Bob Woolmer.

But South Africa has only gained ground since. The match against the Netherlands at Warner Park, St. Kitts was more like a carnival than a carnage as has been described in large parts of the media. It was the sweetness of the bat responding to the inviting ball and more than one batsman caved to the lure of the enticing field. At one point, it seemed even the minnows had begun to accept that they were to become a part of history, albeit in the less than flattering light.

How else would one explain the wry smile on Daan van Bunge’s face as Herschelle Gibbs thumped him six towering sixes in succession? It was a feat equal to that performed previously by none than Sir Garfield Sobers and Ravi Shastri closer to home. Even as van Bunge’s set out to bowl his fourth ball, the feeling became strong that history was beckoning a hero. It was another matter that Gibbs got richer by one million dollars that were intended and entitled to go to a charity of his choice. Who says cricket does not respect the life around it?

Maybe that was stretching it a bit. But there was nothing exaggerated about South Africa’s victory. Gibbs has visibly grabbed the headlines for his extraordinary feat. But not to be forgotten was Jacques Kallis, arguably the powerhouse of South Africa’s batting, who followed up with an innings that spelt his fifteenth one day international hundred. As many as eighteen sixes studded the field, a record by standards and another matter that India would do the same in a bit to save face (and grace) in the game against Bermuda. Except for Ryan ten Doeschate, there would be no saving grace for the Dutch.

If AB de Villiers missed out in the game against the Netherlands, he need not have worried for too long. In an explosive knock that made light of Scotland’s score of 186 for eight, de Villiers stroked every ball towards a noteworthy sixty-two, just a shade pale perhaps compared to his skipper’s feat of ninety-one but no less significant. Smith thoroughly enjoyed showing the stand-in skipper for Scotland and one time team mate, Ryan Watson that he had come a long way from the lad who started out standing in the latter’s shadow. Earlier in the day, Makhaya Ntini did not pick wickets in playing his first match but Andrew Hall and Charl Langeveldt more than made up for it. It would have been a tad worrying for South Africa not to shut out Scotland within the fifty overs. But South Africa did well with the bat to show that the late order smack coming from the likes of Dougie Brown’s forty-five in company with Colin Smith, John Blain and Paul Hoffman was still a huff and a puff short of bringing South Africa down!

 
More Views by Sreelata Yellamrazu
  One way ticket to history!
  Double date. (But only two showed up!)
  Not the best way to go!!!
  England shown the door by Hall
  South Africa scripting a dangerous tale
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