World Cup 2019, India vs South Africa: The Proteas search for redemption
In the land where cricket was born, the coveted 2019 Cricket World Cup is quickly gaining momentum. The mega-event began with a series of one-sided contests, as England thrashed South Africa, West Indies humiliated Pakistan, New Zealand ruthlessly outplayed Sri Lanka, and Australia took down Afghanistan.
However, there is always a twist in the tale in one can be assured that no team is going to sit back and let themselves be slaughtered for long. South Africa is one team that has already come under the heat of the competition brought about by this competition.
After being defeated by the hosts, England, most people expected South Africa to bounce back against a seemingly weaker Bangladesh side. However, the 'Bangla Tigers' were in no mood for a meek surrender.
They fought till the end, outplaying the Proteas in the process. Bangladesh's 21-run win wasn't an upset and instead was a result of a team's immense belief in themselves infused with a refusal to quit. With Bangladesh's win, the World Cup finally had some spice.
Seemingly inspired by Bangladesh's impressive performance, Pakistan slew the favorites themselves, England, in a thrilling encounter. Despite fighting tons from England's test skipper Joe Root 107(104), and test vice-captain Jos Butler 103(76), Pakistan beat the hosts by 14 runs.
The hype is now rising for the much-awaited showdown between India and South Africa, and as the teams gear up for their match at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, we take a look at the situation from South Africa's point of view.
After defeating a struggling Sri Lankan team by 87 runs in the warm-up match leading up to the World Cup league matches, things seemed rosy for South Africa, and they appeared to be in decent nick.
Even though their 2nd warm-up match against the West Indies was abandoned due to rain, Amla and de Kock looked in fine touch in the brief session of play before rain intervened. With a brilliant pace attack, and experienced batsmen in their ranks, South Africa seemed ready to face the league matches head-on.
However, England posed a stern challenge, beating the Proteas comprehensively. Hoping to stage a comeback against Bangladesh, South Africa faced another disappointment as they lost to Bangladesh by 21 runs. On top of that, Lungi Ngidi got injured in the Bangladesh game, and limped off the field with hamstring problems. Earlier, Hashim Amla had gotten hit on the head against England and was rested for the subsequent Bangladesh clash.
Plagued by dampened spirits and injury concerns, South Africa did the one thing that they could - focus on the next game. They put the consecutive defeats behind them and began preparing for their match against India.
However, on the eve of their match at the Ageas Bowl, the South Africans were faced with devastating news. Dale Steyn, who was recovering from a shoulder injury, and who had been rested for the first two matches in the hope that he would be fit enough to play later on, was ruled out of the tournament.
How will Steyn's absence have an impact on South Africa?
Let that sink in. Dale Steyn, their star pacer, a veteran of South African cricket, has been ruled out for the rest of the ICC Cricket World Cup. The rookie left arm pacer Beuran Hendricks has been picked to fill the huge void left behind. Steyn's World Cup dream is now over.
South Africa have no option now but to put their losses behind them, and use their remaining players in the best way possible. A battered South African side may just prove to be dangerous for India as they've got nothing to lose anymore.
They are going to go all out in their third game, in search of redemption, and India must be wary of the Proteas. How South Africa pick themselves back up after facing one tragedy after another will be very interesting to watch and that is the beauty of sport.
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