3 weaknesses that USA can exploit in 2024 T20 World Cup clash against South Africa

Netherlands v South Africa - ICC Men
South Africa have had their nervous moments in the T20 World Cup so far (P/C: Getty)

The Super 8 phase of the T20 World Cup kickstarts with the USA taking on South Africa in North Sound, Antigua on Wednesday, June 19. It has already been a memorable tournament for the United States as they have exceeded expectations by qualifying for the Super 8 phase from Group A alongside India.

USA first beat Canada in the T20 World Cup opener and then took Pakistan to the Super Over, handing them a shock defeat. They also competed incredibly well against India and that would give them a lot of confidence ahead of the fixture against a star-studded South African side.

The Proteas enjoyed a hundred percent record in the group stage with wins over Sri Lanka, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, and Nepal. However, they did have their nervous moments and the USA will be aware of the same. On that note, let's take a look at three weaknesses that South Africa possess which the United States could look at as opportunities to exploit:

#1 USA could trouble an out-of-form top order

The Nassau County Cricket Club in New York was a pretty low-scoring venue as most batters found it tough to adapt to the seam movement and variable bounce. While conditions in Antigua aren't expected to be as tough for batting, it remains a fact that South Africa's top order have struggled for runs.

Left-arm pacer Saurabh Netravalkar has made a habit of providing the USA with early breakthroughs throughout the tournament. He could do so once again against the likes of Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, and Aiden Markram, who may all be low on confidence due to a lack of runs. Some early breakthroughs could put the cat among the pigeons in the South Africa camp.

#2 Batting depth concerns

The conditions in Antigua may tempt South Africa to play both their quality spinners Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi. The ideal fast-bowling combination for the Proteas would be that of Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, and death overs specialist Ottneil Baartman.

While this seems to be the best possible bowling attack for the Proteas, it shortens their batting somewhat, with Maharaj walking out to bat at No. 7. With the aforementioned top-order woes, the United States could put even more pressure on the likes of Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller to do the bulk of the scoring as they did in the group stage. South Africa could struggle with a long tail if the USA get Miller and Klaasen cheaply.

#3 South Africa's habit of stuttering under pressure

South Africa won their group games against Bangladesh and Nepal on the last ball, two results that could have easily gone the other way. They were also in a precarious situation at 12/4 against the Netherlands before Miller saved the day with a half-century. Not to forget that the Dutch had beaten South Africa in a must-win game for the latter in the previous edition of the T20 World Cup.

These examples suggest that South Africa play with an added amount of pressure against the lesser-fancied teams. The USA can go into the Super 8 encounter with a 'nothing to lose' mentality and if they play fearlessly, they could induce some unforced errors from the Proteas.

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Edited by Nihal
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