The Proteas’ hopes of a World Cup recovery plan have been thrown into disarray with the news that Dale Steyn has been ruled out of the World Cup, writes KHALID MOHIDIN.
Optimists will say: ‘Steyn wouldn’t have played anyway, this won’t affect the Proteas’ World Cup chances at all.’
Realists will know that losing Steyn at this stage is a massive blow.
The 35-year-old had a practice session at the Rose Bowl in Southampton on Monday to prove his fitness ahead of the Proteas’ crucial World Cup match against India on Wednesday. However, he was ruled out of the tournament on Tuesday due to a ‘second shoulder injury’.
Steyn is by far the Proteas’ best bowler against India, with 34 wickets, an average of 22.44 and an economy rate of 4.95 against the subcontinent side. This will be sorely missed, especially with the news earlier in the week that Lungi Ngidi will miss the clash against India too.
Having started so poorly in the tournament – two losses out of two – major pressure falls on the Proteas to beat England on Wednesday.
Faf du Plessis, in his post-match presser after the 21-run defeat to Bangladesh, emphasised that their Plan A was heavily reliant on Steyn, Ngidi and Rabada bowling together.
From the get-go they were forced into their Plan B, and they took a beating against England in the opening clash. They were then forced into Plan C when they lost Ngidi against Bangladesh four overs in, and Anrich Nortje was meant to be on standby if anyone was ruled out.
Instead, they have opted for Plan D. Lions left-arm seamer Beuran Hendricks. Hendricks has only played two ODIs, but showed promise in the T20 series against Pakistan, taking eight wickets, but this doesn’t provide any assurances that he will be able to replace Steyn sufficiently.
It’s baffling how CSA have not been able to manage their fast bowlers heading into such a big tournament. One injury is understandable, but four in your 15-man squad is rather unfortunate, or simply foolish planning.
The Proteas only have one premium fast bowler fit against India, which poses the question: can the Proteas get their World Cup campaign on track again? Not without big performances from their batting lineup.
If the Proteas bat first, they need to set a monstrous total, so that their fragile bowling attack can test India’s defence. Hashim Amla was cleared to play, which adds a slight boost to their hopes against India. If they chase, then they need to trust in their ability and play their natural game.
The tunnel looks extremely dark for the Proteas. With the pre-tournament injury hindrances that have flared up dramatically just a few days in, it seems as if this World Cup campaign was set for doom before they got on the plane.
That is until, Plan D came into effect.
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