The Proteas have found the right combinations to challenge for the Champions Trophy.
It was an excellent effort by AB de Villiers’ men to beat New Zealand 3-2. The Black Caps have been strong at home for some time now. Martin Guptill missed a few games, but it was their strongest side otherwise, and the bowlers kept the likes of Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor quiet throughout.
The fact that the Proteas are back to being the No 1 ODI side in the world should work to their advantage. They’re a very dedicated side, and you’re under pressure every game, no matter what your ranking is or how many games you’ve gone unbeaten. Whether they’re No 1 or No 2 in the world in the Champions Trophy, the same pressure and expectations will be there.
We’ll always have question marks in our side. JP Duminy’s form is a massive concern, and you never know what you’re going to get with Wayne Parnell with the ball, but these are still good players. When Duminy puts it together he’s a great player and has the potential to be really effective. Having said that, I don’t think he should be batting at No 4. He should be put in at No 6 and his bowling should be utilised more.
There’s been talk of Theunis de Bruyn fitting the mould in the middle order, but I don’t think he warrants a full-time position just yet. I’ve seen him play a couple of times and he hasn’t always scored runs. He needs to keep scoring runs regularly in domestic cricket to get the nod.
Parnell has always been a bit of a mystery. One day he’ll go for 70 runs, the next he’ll wipe out the top order. His batting is extremely important though, and fits well into the balance of the side. That’s where the Proteas’ combinations are really good, and in ODIs you have to factor in the batting in the lower order.
Kagiso Rabada has the likes of Parnell, Chris Morris and Andile Phehlukwayo to accompany him with the ball, and they can all bat. Having another out-and-out bowler is something the Proteas need to be careful about, because it will affect the combinations that have been working so well.
Imran Tahir has been unbelievable. It’s amazing how many players can’t read him, and you can tell that the batsmen don’t even want to play his bad balls anymore, such is the respect that he’s earned as the No 1 bowler in the world.
Nobody really sticks out as to who might potentially win the Champions Trophy. The Proteas are up there, along with England under their own conditions, but you’ve got to have a bit of luck in the close matches, so it could go anywhere.
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