Jonty Rhodes

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Former South Africa international, Mumbai Indians coach, and fielder extraordinaire.

Blog Posts by Jonty Rhodes

  • May The Calmest Head Prevail

    Australia have a slight edge, but I expect the semifinal to go down to the wire.

    In the first semi-final, New Zealand in front of their home crowd of 40,000 managed to absorb their tumultuous support and convert it into an energy that helped them pip South Africa at the finish line — just. When Australia take on India in the second semi-final at the famous SCG, it would probably be the first time that Australia don’t get overwhelming support from the spectators. There is every indication that at least half of the seats will be taken up by fans wearing the Blue.

    HOME GROUND ADVANTAGE

    Australia are familiar with home conditions, but seeing that India have been in the country for the past three months and the SCG is probably the most moderate of the Australian pitches, then suddenly the home ground advantage is no longer a big factor.

    If anything, the SCG pitch has been slow, and taken spin in the past. Just cast your mind back to the QF match where Sri Lanka lost seven wickets to spin against SA. However, this does not automatically mean ‘advantage India’ as JP

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  • The Game of The Tournament Thus Far

    A brilliant game of equals, leaves one winner and one teary-eyed loser.

    Where does one start dissecting the first semi-final of the World Cup? Do you look towards the gambles taken, mistakes made, opportunities lost, or the brilliant spectacle of a close contest provided by two teams at the top of their game?

    As a former player of the losing team (hey, somebody has to come second) it’s really heart-breaking to see your fellow countrymen inconsolable after the loss—especially the teary eyes of Morne Morkel and skipper AB de Villiers, who’ve performed brilliantly at this World Cup but couldn’t pull their team over the line despite brilliant individual performances in the semi-final.

    Let’s start with the beginning.

    When both captains announced their respective teams, there was a surprise in each line-up: Vernon Philander in for Kyle Abbott and Matt Henry in for Adam Milne. 

    Abbott, not in South Africa’s starting XI, replaced the injured Philander. He leant strength to the SA attack with his swing, pace and ability to bowl Powerplay overs. He played an

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  • Jonty’s Open Letter To South Africa

    To the Proteas, just a little message from a former teammate who played four World Cups but never got beyond the semi-finals.

    Dear countrymen,

    Go forth and enjoy this day. Go forth and enjoy this day. Remember the day you beat the Sri Lankans? You were determined to perform to the best of your abilities, both individually and collectively. But you also showed no apparent fixation with your World Cup history.

    None of you have played in the 1992, ’96, ’99 or 2003 World Cups. And you don’t come with any baggage of those tournaments. You go into Tuesday’s semifinal with a clean slate.

    Don’t look at the stats from this World Cup or the ones gone by, from games against the Black Caps, or for matches at this venue. Just look into the mirror, or take a selfie, and pledge to that face looking back at you, that you will give all that you have in this match, and no history is going to hinder you from playing to your best.

    There are no guarantees that you will win or lose against the All Blacks. But as long as you have prepared to the maximum of your ability, leaving no stone unturned in your efforts to overcome the opposition, you just have to trust the process – a

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  • Pakistan's Batting, Fielding Were Woeful

    Pakistan don't know it yet, but they are going to miss Misbah badly.

    What a pity! One of the most enduring and inspired fast bowling performances in recent times was presented by Wahab Riaz of Pakistan on a day when his teammates let him down badly in batting and fielding, thus bowing out of the World cup, but with head held high.

    We all know that catches win matches - but can they win you the World Cup? Pakistan will never know the answer to this question, as two crucial chances were missed in their QF match against co-hosts Australia. 

    To blame the defeat solely on their poor fielding would be to brush over their equally woeful batting on yet another good pitch. Winning the toss and electing to bat on a wicket that was displaying a good covering of grass, Misbah needed his openers to weather the first 10 overs with Test-like grit and determination against the tournament's leading wicket taker Mitchell Starc.

    BUT…

    However, it seemed that Ahmed Shehzad and Sarfraz Ahmed were determined to counter-punch the Aussie pacers, and both fell to good catches

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  • India Were Perfect, Again

    Runs for Rohit and Jadeja mean they go into the semifinal confidently.

    The David vs Goliath quarterfinal between India and Bangladesh was always going to be a matter of how convincing the India victory would be. The gap between the two sides on paper is apparent, and once again, yet another consistent all round performance from India took them to the semifinals.

    A well-deserved century from the stylish Rohit Sharma, coupled with another bustling innings from the quick-firing Suresh Raina, saw India post 302. After a measured start, they had lost their way somewhat in the middle overs. Credit to the Bangladesh spinners who bowled straight and varied their pace to restrict Shikar Dhawan and the usually free-scoring Ajinkya Rahane.

    I have always expressed my admiration for Raina as a superb limited overs package, and again, he provided the much-needed impetus to a stuttering innings. Ravindra Jadeja has been under scrutiny for the past few matches, and his entertaining 23 off 10 balls will allow him some much-needed confidence going to the semifinal.

    The

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  • Live Chat With Jonty Rhodes

    The South African legend will speak to you live during the India-Bangladesh match.

  • The Ghost Has Finally Been Exorcised

    South Africa have that elusive win in a knockout. But bigger challenges lie ahead.

    Duminy and de Kock's excellent performances masked South Africa's problems. Duminy and de Kock's excellent performances masked South Africa's problems.

    The ghost has finally been exorcised. At least that's how it feels for the South African supporters—to see the team put one across their opponents in a World Cup knock-out match. Yes, that one elusive win, which now done, seems a minor hurdle crossed as the team surges ahead in search of bigger glory.

    My pre-game observations have gone off target and I am happy to be proven wrong by both Quinton de Kock and JP Duminy, two of the 11 stars in the SA performance in their QF match against Sri Lanka at Sydney.

    Every indication pointed towards a high-scoring thriller at the SCG, especially with the current form of some of the senior Lankan batsmen, and the visible shortage of a fifth bowler in the SA ranks. I am really glad that Kyle Abbott was given another opportunity, as his pace and swing allow AB de Villiers to prolong his battery of pace. Rotating his quicks ensured every opportunity of taking wickets in the first 10 overs of the game - key against any opposition, and more so against

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  • Player Clashes Provide Fodder To Media

    Sammy's public sulk was avoidable.

    Bangladesh upstaging England to enter the quarterfinals was the only unexpected change from the pre-tournament predictions of most cricket analysts.

    The World Cup moves to the knockouts from Wednesday. From here on there are no second chances. There is a two-day break for the teams to chart out strategies for the business end of the tournament.

    The last Sunday of the league phase had West Indies taking on the UAE before Pakistan met Ireland in a must-win game.

    With an impending storm threatening to shorten the match, Jason Holder justifiably bowled first. Holder bowled his 10 overs on the trot and had the opposition in knots at 6 for 46. His lethal spell of short bowling proved unplayable for the UAE and he was ably supported by the ever reliable Jerome Taylor.

    A late rearguard from Amjad Javed and Nasir Aziz helped set the fighting target of 175 for the West Indies, who, with the help of the composed Johnson Charles and Jonathan Carter, chased it down comfortably.

    The match was marred

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  • Rohit & Jadeja Are Struggling, But India Should Not Drop Them

    MSD wouldn't want to disturb his settled unit that is unbeaten at the World Cup.

    They may be called minnows, but they have a fighting spirit and some great players who can put the big names of champion sides in the shade. Zimbabwe is one such side and their stand-in captain Brendan Taylor one such champion.

    Once again, Zimbabwe pushed a top-rung team deep into the match, but sadly, once again, the lack of a genuine pace bowler prevented them from leaking the flow of runs in the last 10 overs.

    Taylor performed admirably and ended his international career fittingly by scoring his second consecutive World Cup hundred. Sadly for Taylor, one of my favourite players in India, Suresh Raina, batted superbly with his skipper MS Dhoni to save India from a hairy situation and take them to the knockouts unbeaten.

    It was good to watch the highlights of the Raina and Dhoni partnership, but what you didn't see was the incredible running between the wickets of these two power hitters. They were quite superb and made scoring nine runs per look absolutely simple.

    There are

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  • Dhoni's Vocabulary Doesn't Have Mercy

    He'll take on Zimbabwe and Bangladesh with the same intensity as ever.

    MS DhoniMS Dhoni

    New Zealand maintained their winning streak and completed the league stage with full points, though with a mild hiccup in the process in their last encounter against the rejuvenated Bangladesh.

    India will also be aiming for a clean sweep of their league matches as they meet Zimbabwe in their last encounter on Saturday at Auckland. From the past experience I can say that MS Dhoni is not known to change his winning combination and is likely to continue with the same playing XI.

    The team's performance has been incredible, and has caused many observers, including me, to eat their words. With the batsmen in such good form, and the World Cup within their grasp, I am sure that Dhoni's men will not want to miss out on a game against Zimbabwe. The only way Zimbabwe can be competitive in this encounter is if India take their opposition lightly. However, having watched MSD over previous WC and IPL campaigns, mercy doesn’t seem to be in his vocabulary, and I expect India to complete their pool

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