South Africa’s stock has fallen over recent times and they will be hoping to fly under the radar and challenge for honours at the upcoming T20 World Cup, for which they are only seventh in the outright betting at 12/1 to win.
The Proteas will actually go into the tournament in fifth place in the ICC T20 rankings, although both Australia and West Indies – below them in the rankings – are expected to fare better. The silver lining is the fact that there may be less outside pressure on South Africa to perform as they look to reach their first final.
T20 World Cup Results
South Africa have arguably under-performed on the world stage in both the T20 and 50-over World Cups, having failed to reach a final in either.
The Proteas have had some of the world’s best players in previous sides but have failed to put it all together when it matters, and have only reached the semi-finals on two previous occasions in the T20 showpiece.
They were beaten by eventual winners Pakistan in the last-four stage at the second edition of the tournament back in 2009, while they lost out to India in the semi-finals five years later.
In the last tournament in 2016, South Africa failed to make it out of the group after finishing third behind West Indies and England, although they did beat the other two sides in the group, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.
South African’s can certainly take confidence from their recent T20 outings, having won their last three T20 series, beating West Indies 3-2, before enjoying successive 3-0 wins over Sri Lanka, home and away.
However, they had lost to Pakistan twice earlier in the year, while they also suffered a 3-0 defeat on home territory to England.
The Proteas do not appear to have the strength in depth compared to previous sides but there is some star quality in the line-up, with Kagiso Rabada a stand out in the bowling attack.
However, South Africa will need to put runs on the board and there aren’t too many better in the game than opening batter Quinton de Kock (14/1 Top Tournament Batsman), who is capable of flaying any attack in the world to all parts.
The elegant but powerful wicketkeeper-batter does not have the worries of the captaincy to carry on his shoulders any more and can focus on the matter at hand, getting his side off to a flyer.
The 28-year-old has a more than healthy average of 35.15 in T20 internationals with 11 half-centuries to his name, a surprise being that he has not yet three figures.
De Kock goes into the tournament on the back of a player of the series performance last time out against Sri Lanka, having scored 36 and two unbeaten 50s in the three-game series, and is arguably in the form of his life.
Temba Bavuma succeeded De Kock as captain of South Africa’s limited-overs sides but has perhaps not yet stamped his mark on the team.
The 31-year-old has only played 16 T20 internationals and has a decent if unspectacular average of 27.33, although he has only reached the half-century mark once so far – against Ireland back in July.
The fact that the squad lacks the star power of previous sides may put a little more pressure on his shoulders, particularly if De Kock fails to fire at the top of the order.