The excitement is palpable as one of the most enthralling tournaments in world cricket is almost upon us. The ICC T20I World Cup gets underway this month, and we preview the 16 teams that will be competing to lift the famous trophy. Here we have the lowdown on South Africa.

It has been a whirlwind year for South Africa, who have undergone a number of transitional changes over the last few months. The Proteas certainly do not have a world class squad featuring some of the biggest names in the sport anymore. But their new-look squad features a number of talented players who could make a real splash at the ICC T20I World Cup. There is a real excitement about this youthful South Africa team going into the tournament. And they will be aiming to play spoilsport to the hopes of Australia, England and West Indies in the Super 12s.

Recent Form

South Africa have played 18 T20Is this year, winning 11 and losing 7. And while that is not necessarily an impressive record, recent series wins over West Indies, Ireland and Sri Lanka mean that they are in great shape ahead of the T20I World Cup. The Temba Bavuma-led side go into the tournament on the back of a team record tying run of seven wins in a row in the format.

Biggest Strength

South Africa’s biggest strength is their exciting bowling attack that features a great mix of match-turning spin and blistering pace. They have the world’s top ranked T20I bowler in Tabraiz Shamsi, who has picked up 28 wickets in 17 games at an economy rate of just 5.53 this year. Joining him in the South Africa attack will be fearsome pace trio Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi. While spinners Bjorn Fortuin and Keshav Maharaj could also be useful on the slow pitches in the UAE. And don’t discount all-rounders Wiaan Mulder and Dwaine Pretorius, who have a knack of taking wickets in the middle overs.

Biggest Weakness

South Africa are a top heavy team that features four very capable batters in Quinton de Kock, Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen and Temba Bavuma. But there are some concerns over the quality of their middle and lower order, with the all-rounders often failing to provide the finishing touches required to close out the innings. The likes of Heinrich Klaasen, Wiaan Mulder and Dwaine Pretorius have not been able to make the desired impact in the death overs. And coach Mark Boucher will need to find a solution to this issue quickly, as the teams they will be facing in the Super 12s all have death overs specialists.

South Africa has a 100% winning record in the United Arab Emirates

What the media are saying

South Africa are going through a period of transition at the moment so expectations aren’t very high going into the T20I World Cup. Add to that the fact that they have three heavyweights in their group, and South Africa will the underdogs at the tournament. Fans and the media will still expect a competitive showing from the Proteas, and failure to produce that would lead to more criticism for the already under-fire head coach Mark Boucher.

Quinton de Kock has the 2nd most career dismissals in T20I history (64)

Star Player

Considering South Africa’s lack of batting strength, the pressure will be on Quinton de Kock to lead them to World Cup glory. De Kock has been in stunning form since being relieved of the pressures of captaincy in limited-overs cricket. He has scored 455 runs in just ten T20Is for South Africa this year. And his performances with the bat will be key to the Proteas’ hopes.

 

Wiaan Mulder has 4 half-centuries and 29 wickets to his name in his T20 career

Keep an eye on…

Young all-rounder Wiaan Mulder could be set for a breakthrough tournament in South Africa colours. The 23 year old has already impressed with the ball in Test cricket this year. And with a lack of all-rounders in this South Africa team, Mulder may well be asked to step up and play the finisher’s role. He has an impressive strike rate and a fairly decent average in T20 cricket. And his medium pace bowling could make him a useful tool to have in the conditions in UAE.

Projected XI

Quinton de Kock (wk), Reeza Hendricks, Temba Bavuma (c), Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Wiaan Mulder, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi

Prediction

South Africa have a bowling line-up that can go toe to toe with the best of the best. But their lack of batting depth is concerning. The likes of Australia, England and West Indies should be able to overpower them unless Quinton de Kock gets some help from his fellow batters. The Proteas will no doubt be competitive, but a place in the semi-finals will likely be out of their reach.