Another defeat and that could leave South Africa’s World Cup hopes in tatters as they face a revitalised West Indies at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday in a match they need to win to breathe life back into their tentative World Cup 2015 campaign. The Proteas were outplayed by defending champions India in their second Group game as they lost by 130 runs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground last Sunday. That left AB de Villiers’ men with just two points after two games and trailing India, the West Indies and Ireland in Pool B.
What more could ruin it up as opener Chris Gayle has bounced back from slump form as the southpaw scored a highest ever individual World Cup score of 215 containing a record-equalling 16 sixes, while Marlon Samuels scoring an unbeaten 133 in an all-time ODI record stand of 372. The South Africans cannot afford to lose to the West Indies as they would then have to beat Ireland, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates to ensure they finish near the top of their pool and secure a beneficial quarter-final draw.
The World Cup record favours the Proteas who have emerged victorious three of their five World Cup encounters with the West Indies, including the last two in Delhi and Granada. “It`s a big game for us and it`s a must win for us in Sydney. We`ll come with a bit of energy again. The way I know this team, we always bounce back. We`ve got a never-say-die attitude, and this tournament is by a long way not over for us,” skipper AB de Villiers said to the press before the game.
Hopes are pinned on star pacer Dale Steyn who will be relishing a contest with record-breaking West Indian opener Gayle. Steyn has only taken two for 119 in his two matches so far at the tournament from a win over Zimbabwe and the crushing loss to India. Gayle was struggling at the start of the competition, but a sensational return against Zimbabwe in could spell doom for South Africa as they look to win their first ever World Cup.
Steyn will be without his new-ball partner Vernon Philander, who has been ruled out with a hamstring injury. Even though South Africa romped home over West Indies in the recently concluded series against the West Indies, the latter will be looking for revenge and pile on more pressure for AB de Villiers and company.