South Africa beat the United Arab Emirates by 146 runs on Thursday to consolidate their position in Pool B.
The result in Wellington marks the Proteas’ fourth victory in six group matches. That win tally as well as a good net run rate should be enough to entrench them in second position on the Pool B log.
It’s now likely that the Proteas will play Sri Lanka in the quarter-final. Barring an upset in the remaining Pool A matches, Sri Lanka should finish third on the log, a finish that will see them battling South Africa in the play-off at the Sydney Cricket Ground next Wednesday.
The Proteas may have finished second in their pool, but their performances have been anything but convincing. They lost the two big matches against India and Pakistan. They battled against Zimbabwe and there were even times in the clash against the UAE where they were under pressure.
Yet again, there were elements of the Proteas’ batting and bowling that were woefully below standard. AB de Villiers continued to operate at an elite level, contributing an important 99. But for the most part, the captain did not receive the necessary support.
Not for the first time in this competition, Hashim Amla was dismissed after miscuing a pull shot. Quinton de Kock came into this game a man under pressure, and scratched around for 26 off 45 deliveries before nicking off.
Rilee Rossouw was promoted to No 3 in the injury-enforced absence of Faf du Plessis. While he was effective against the seamers, Rossouw struggled to score against the UAE’s slow bowlers. Shortly after De Kock departed, Rossouw knocked a simple catch back to Mohammad Tauqir.
David Miller and De Villiers were forced to rebuild. They put on 108 for the fourth wicket, but that partnership was far from convincing. The UAE should have had Miller run out for 7, and caught on 20. De Villiers also survived a good lbw shout when he was on 10.
The Proteas captain went on to score a half century off 54 balls. Thereafter, he accelerated, smashing the UAE bowlers to all corners during the batting Powerplay. De Villiers was denied a century thereafter, but the platform had been set.
Coming in at No 7, Farhaan Behardien capitalised, scoring 64 runs off just 31 balls. That cameo ensured that the Proteas surpassed the 340-mark.
In total, the South Africans scored 101 runs off the final 10 overs. However, one should remember De Villiers’s contribution as game-shaping, as after Rossouw departed, the Proteas were in a difficult spot at 96-3 off 18 overs. If not for De Villiers, and to a lesser extent, Miller, South Africa may have fared far worse.
The bowling performance was just as patchy. It took an aggressive spell from Morné Morkel to inspire the initial breakthrough. Rossouw took a sharp one-handed catch to dismiss Andri Raffaelo Berenger, who struggled to adapt to the pace and bounce.
Morkel continued to bowl short to Khurram Khan. It was an absorbing contest, and one that was won resoundingly by the bowler. After being struck on the helmet and body, Khurram tried to launch a counter-attack but only succeeding in edging the ball to De Kock behind the stumps.
Shaiman Anwar, the UAE’s top scorer at this tournament, then proceeded to drop anchor. Anwar and Swapnil Patil came together when the score was 45-3. They put on 63 for the fourth wicket, but it was the time spent at the crease (17.3 overs) that would have annoyed South Africa more than the number of runs scored.
The UAE did attempt to play some strokes in the batting Powerplay, and it was here where the likes of De Villiers picked up a couple of cheap wickets. But again, De Villiers didn’t receive the necessary support.
Patil played especially well in this period, and finished on 57. It took the South African bowlers all of 47.3 overs to take nine UAE wickets (No 11 Fahad Alhashmi was unable to bat due to an injury).
The Proteas won by a comfortable margin, a result that was expected against the weakest team in Pool B. And yet, it was not a great overall performance. They will need to lift their standards, with the bat and ball, if they’re to beat Sri Lanka in Sydney next week.
South Africa 341-6 in 50 overs (AB de Villiers 99, Farhaan Behardien 64 not out, David Miller 49, Mohammad Naveed 3-63)
UAE 195-9 in 47.3 overs (Swapnil Patil 57, Shaiman Anwar 39, AB de Villiers 2-15, Morné Morkel 2-23)
South Africa won by 146 runs