Wednesday, May 27, 2020 02:43:01 AM
South Africa will look to justify their status as one of the favourites to win the World Cup with a potentially tricky Pool B opener against minnows Zimbabwe in Hamilton on Sunday.
Led by the swashbuckling AB de Villiers, South Africa appear to have all bases covered, with depth in batting, guile in bowling and excellence in the field.
In Hashim Amla, they have the most prolific batsman in the world who will open the innings with the fast-improving Quinton de Kock followed by Faf du Plessis, de Villiers and Jean-Paul Duminy.
South Africa will heavily rely on skipper de Villiers who has earned the reputation of being the cleanest hitter in the game, enhanced by his world record 31-ball hundred against the West Indies last month.
The pace attack led by the vibrant Dale Steyn and backed by Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander and Kyle Abbott is one of the best in the world and, with two quality spinners in Imran Tahir and Aaron Phangiso, they pose a threat to class batsmen. De Villiers did not shy away from saying South Africa had the self-belief to win this tournament.
"We're certainly one of the favourites," said the captain. "There's no hiding from that fact. We enjoy being one of the best teams in the world.
"We have that kind of confidence that we can be the best team in the world, and at the tournament we've got the opportunity to prove it."
South Africa will also look to rid themselves of the tag of "chokers", having faltered at crucial junctures of the World Cup since their re-admission in international cricket in 1991.
They have never gone beyond the semi-final stage but their recent form and maturity suggest they are capable of breaking that jinx.
By contrast Zimbabwe, have struggled off and on the field in the recent past, with turmoil among their administrators and a 5-0 one-day thrashing in Bangladesh last year.
But a change of coach, which saw Dav Whatmore took over at the turn of the year, seems to have given Zimbabwe a new lease of life.
Whatmore guided Sri Lanka to the World Cup title in 1996 and coached Bangladesh to the Super Eights in 2007. The signs of progress were evident when Zimbabwe caught New Zealand napping in their first World Cup warm-up game at 157 for seven before rain intervened.
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