South Africa will be the dark horse at World Cup: Zaheer Khan
The former India pacer believes the Proteas have the right composition of players in their squad to go deep at the marquee event in India
Former India fast bowler Zaheer Khan believes Temba Bavuma-led South Africa will be the team to watch out for at the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup, which begins with a clash between defending champions England and New Zealand on Thursday.
Speaking at an event in Mumbai, Khan said that the Proteas, who will face Sri Lanka in their first match on Saturday, have the right composition of players in their squad to go deep at the marquee event in India.
“Everyone seems to be talking about India, England, Australia, Pakistan and New Zealand as contenders, but I feel South Africa will be the dark horse at the World Cup this year,” said Khan, who had played a key role in India’s 2011 World Cup-winning campaign.
South Africa reached the ODI World Cup semi-finals in 1992, 1999, 2007 and 2015, but they have never managed to reach the summit clash. This time, they will have momentum on their side having beaten Australia at home in their last international assignment. Down 0-2, they bounced back in style to win the last three games and bag the series.
Despite pacer Anrich Nortje getting ruled-out of the upcoming World Cup due to injury, South Africa still have a number of match-winners in their ranks. There are several players who have ample experience of Indian conditions thanks to the IPL, with the likes of Quinton de Kock, David Miller, Kagiso Rabada, Heinrich Klaasen and Aiden Markram being in form in recent times.
“South Africa’s history when it comes to ICC tournaments isn’t great,” said Khan. “They have this tag of 'chokers' also which goes with them. But somehow, looking at the way they played against Australia recently, I think they could be the dark horse. If certain players from their squad come good in the Indian conditions, they will definitely be a force to reckon with.”
Like the last edition of the 50-over World Cup in 2019, all teams will play the other nine teams in the competition once. The ones with the most points will then compete in the semi-finals.
“The format is such that if you manage to be in the top four at the end of the league stage, you only need two more days of good cricket to win the title,” said Khan. “And in such a situation, anyone can beat anyone. How each team approaches the league stage and builds momentum will be crucial.”
Apart from South Africa, the 44-year-old reckoned India, England and Australia will remain consistent and are likely to reach the semi-finals.
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