S Africa look to seal semis spot

S Africa look to seal semis spot

Proteas face embattled Pakistan in a crucial Super Eights match

S Africa look to seal semis spot

With none of their players featuring in the third edition of the Indian Premier League, defending champion Pakistan entered the tournament as the only side without any fatigue factor but they looked rusty and now risk an early return home after losing their first two Super Eight stage matches to England and New Zealand.

The 2009 champions looked rudderless lot under Shahid Afridi’s captaincy and the burden of leading seemed to have bogged down the all-rounder who looked far from his flamboyance self. The Pakistani batting order, barring Salman Butt, has looked patchy with batsmen like Mohammad Hafeez and Misbah-ul-Haq coming a cropper while the Akmal brothers — Kamran and Umar — also lacking consistency. Their inability to chase down a meagre victory target of 134 runs in Saturday’s cliff-hanger against New Zealand virtually put paid to their semifinal hopes and the batsmen would have to shoulder the blame for the pathetic display.

In contrast, their bowlers did a better job and restricting New Zealand to 133. Unlike Pakistan, South Africa have everything to play for as a win might clear their semifinal passage.

Having beaten New Zealand by 13 runs in their first Super Eight match, South Africa showed a batting frailty against England that would keep them worried. Chasing 169 for a win, only four batsmen reached double digit scores before they collapsed in 19 overs for just 129.

One would expect the Protea bowlers to bend their back and come to the aid of the team. For South Africa, off-spinner Johan Botha has been virtually unplayable, taking wickets and hardly conceding boundaries but the Proteas would need a big contribution from Dale Steyn and Charl Langeveldt up front.

Mohsin silent
Pakistan chief selector Mohsin Khan refused to react on T20 skipper Shahid Afridi’s outburst against the selectors as they face exit from the World Twenty20. Afridi had said that he and the coach were not consulted by the selectors while picking the squad.

Mohsin said he will speak on the issue only after the tournament is over. “Let the tournament finish then I will speak in detail about the team’s performance and team selection,” Khan said. Sources close to Mohsin said he was not happy with the remarks made by Afridi as he (Mohsin) had unofficially consulted Afridi while finalising the 15-member squad for the World Cup.

“At that time the Pakistan Board had not announced the captain or coach but Mohsin knew Afridi would be captain and had discussed the selection of the team with him so he is obviously surprised by the remarks made by Afridi,” one source said.