South Africa are the top-ranked T20 side in the world. They are one team that has performed consistently well in all the three format of the game all year round. Their form led them to become the first ever side to have topped the ranking charts in all the formats recently.
To match their image, the Proteas, surprisingly, have only one major ICC trophy to their name—ICC knockout trophy that they won in 1998. They have yet to achieve a world championship title in any format. On each occasion that they have participated in a world championship tournament, they have been overwhelming favourites. The team performs throughout the tourney only to ‘choke’ at the final hurdle.
With the T20 championship moving to the subcontinent this year, South Africa led by AB de Villiers are again among the favourites to land the trophy with a team that has perhaps the best bowling line-up in the world today along with some of the big hitters of the cricket ball and useful all-rounder.
Strength: South Africa are perhaps the only team that can boast of a line-up that excels in all the departments of the game. Their batting comprises some of the best T20 batsmen having experience in playing the subcontinent conditions. At the top they have the calming presence of Hashim Amla complemented by the brute force of big hitting Richard Levi.
Veteran all-rounder Jacques Kallis has proved that age is not the primary factor that dictates who qualifies to be a T20 player. In his stint with the Indian Premier League franchises, he has time and again displayed his utility both as a batsman and as a bowler and his rich experience will surely come handy in the middle order.
Their captain, AB de Villiers with his one-man show for his franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore turned many a match in their favour with his blitzing knocks in the 2012 season.
In the bowling department they have world’s best pacer Dale Steyn and spinner Johan Botha who is ranked as the third best T20 bowler after England’s Graeme Swann and Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal.
Weakness: The only chink in their armoury happens to be the absence of a specialist spinner. On the turning Sri Lankan tracks, a lethal pace attack combined with an equally efficient spin department could have been a mouth watering prospect but in the absence of Imran Tahir appears to be the only weak link in their squad and they will have to rely on Robin Peterson and Johan Botha.
Opportunities: With a majority of their squad members regularly playing in the IPL, they do have the requisite experience of the conditions and some of them have excelled under them (read AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Jacques Kallis). The conditions under the lights in Sri Lanka during the recently concluded SLPL have offered movement and swing for the fast bowlers which should be good news for their pacers.
Threat: They have been placed in a group featuring the host nation Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. So, qualifying to the knock out stages shouldn’t be a problem. It is becoming a custom to preach them about how not to fall on the final hurdle but all will depend on how well they deal with pressure situations in crucial encounters.
AB de Villiers (captain), Albie Morkel, Dale Steyn, Faf du Plessis, Farhaan Behardien, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, Johan Botha, JP Duminy, Justin Ontong, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Morne Morkel, Richard Levi, Robin Peterson, Wayne Parnell.
Record: Played: 46, Won: 31, Lost: 15