Jonty Rhodes

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SA were in complete control

The prospect of South Africa being eliminated from the tournament after three days was too horrible to contemplate - so I didn't! I was always confident that they would be too strong for New Zealand even though the Black Caps have some dangerous players.

 

The Proteas have not only stayed alive but did some useful work in repairing the damage which Sri Lanka inflicted on their net run rate. It didn't look like they were deliberately trying to score quickly which pleased me because you don’t take liberties with the game of cricket at any level, but certainly not in a tournament involving the best eight teams in the world.

 

Having bowled and fielded brilliantly to dismiss New Zealand for just 214, it would have been unforgivable if South Africa had assumed that the hard work was done and taken victory for granted.

 

It was an absolute pleasure watching them construct the run chase in the methodical and clinical way they did and, although the people around me in the Standard Bank hospitality box became a bit nervous when wickets fell, I always thought they were in complete control. It was a comprehensive win and will give the team's collective confidence a vital boost after the shock of the Sri Lanka game.

 

The only thing which didn’t work for the guys was their throwing at the stumps. JP Duminy must have had a dozen unsuccessful throws while AB de Villiers tried even more often from backward point without making contact once! It reminded of the last guy to spend a lot of time at backward point for South Africa, that Rhodes guy. He was hopeless at hitting the stumps.

 

 

Actually, there is quite a lot of luck involved and sometimes it’s just not your day. We always learn to throw at the base of the stumps when the 'keeper can't get there and sometimes the ball hits a piece of turf and defelects away - or bounces straight over the top. You just have to console yourself with the fact that you’ll hit them all the time in the next game.

 

I said after the heavy loss to Sri Lanka that South Africa’s habit of starting quickly and fading may be about to turn around. If they can maintain the intensity they showed against New Zealand and win again against England on Sunday, then they should reach the semi finals with huge momentum piled up behind them.

 

For now, though, I think we can all breath a collective sigh of relief (apart from Kiwis, of course) because the tournament might just have felt a little flat if the hosts had been eliminated before half the teams had even played a game.

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