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ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: Pressure is South Africa's toughest opponent

South Africa has always had teams capable of winning the ICC World Cup but due to forces above and sometimes their own doing, they have faltered at crucial junctures.

Hashim Amla AB de Villiers
In Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers, South Africa have two of the best batsmen in the world

Christchurch, Feb 6 (IANS) South Africa has always had teams capable of winning the ICC World Cup but due to forces above and sometimes their own doing, they have faltered at crucial junctures. The current crop of players led by the ever-talented AB de Villiers, however, will look to shed the tag of 'chokers' and 'nearly men' and give the country their first major trophy.

South Africa's World Cup campaign has been a tale of heartbreaks - right from their first participation in 1992 when the rain gods conspired against them and in 2011 when they were the odds-on favourites to beat New Zealand in the quarters but the batting failed to cope with the pressure.

Not to forget, in between there was also the small situation of a tied semi-final with Australia, who advanced because of a group-stage win.

South Africa were poised to win the game, needing one to win off four balls and a wicket in hand. But a major mix-up between Lance Klusener and Allan Donald gave the Australians the thoroughfare. More than beating their opponents, South Africa will have to battle the demons within and push back the pressure under which they have been weighed down one too many times.

The scars of events of the past still exist but led by de Villiers it would be hard to bet against them. The Proteas will feel right at home in Australia and New Zealand and a classy batting line-up backed by an arsenal of quicks with the ability to not only beat batsmen by pace but also their movement.

South Africa will have little problems getting past the group stage and their only real test could be against the defending champions India. The likes of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Imran Tahir will surely cause more than a few problems for the opposition.

The batting will be led by de Villiers, who in the lead-up to the tournament, smashed the fastest century in ODIs, off just 31 balls in a match against the West Indies. He has also hovered around the World No.1 one-day ranking for the last five years and captaincy has not dimmed his form either.

The solid batting skills of Hashim Amla at the top of the order, juxtaposed with the ruthlessness of JP Duminy and David Miller, leaves South Africa with a right mix of sanity and aggression.

Many believe this will be the tournament when South Africa claim the elusive trophy, but that's what they said the last time and the time before that.

Squad

AB de Villiers (captain), Hashim Amla, Kyle Abbott, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Vernon Philander, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn.

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