The Proteas played a brilliant game, led by Hashim Amla’s century, but Supersport commentator Kepler Wessels sounded a note of caution.
The former Proteas captain was fulsome in his praise of Amla, who became the fastest batsman to score 20 ODI centuries.
‘He is magnificent and so important to the Proteas,’ said Wessels. ‘He is the rock which the Proteas can build on. He not only provides stability, but it is the rate at which he scores that is so important.
‘He is a natural boundary hitter so it does not look like he is hitting the big shots, he just simply puts the bad ball away. It’s almost unobtrusive the way he goes about getting his boundaries. But his strength remains his concentration. His power of concentration is phenomenal and, in one day cricket, it is amazing how he turns over the strike and how he manages the innings when he bats for a long time.’
But the Proteas will not find it as easy when they get to the knockout stages, and the batsmen will have to be more cautious and circumspect, warned Wessels. And they will have to consider who will open, given that Quinton de Kock failed once again.
‘The choice is simple: they can keep everything as it is and hope that he comes good, or they can make a bold decision and bring Rilee Rossouw to the opening spot and drop Quinton to No 7, just to get him back into some sort of form, because he has to keep wicket; that’s what keeping him in the side,’ said Wessels.
The selectors have just two more games to get it right [against Pakistan and the UAE], he added. ‘By the time the quarterfinals comes, they must have all their ducks in a row and everyone must know their roles. We can’t have any guesswork that stage.
‘To be honest, those bowling attacks from the West Indies and Ireland were not particularly difficult, and everyone was able to play pretty much as they wanted to. But if we come up against Australia, who probably have the best balanced attack in the competition, or New Zealand, we need to have everything in place. We will need to be much more circumspect and make sure that the first 10 overs are good ones.’
Regardless, the top order will need to be cautious and have a settled game plan, added Wessels. ‘Just think back to that semifinal against Australia in the West Indies, when they decided they were going to take them on, take on the swinging ball and it all went horribly wrong. And in New Zealand we have seen that white ball swing, so we need to be cautious. They need to get through the first 10 overs sensibly.’