South Africa Have To Cope With Pressure

De Villiers has to fire for SA

South Africa’s preparations for the ICC Champions Trophy were dealt a blow in their one-day series defeat against England.

The Proteas arrived as the number one ranked side in the world, but their credentials were put to the test by Eoin Morgan’s men.

England put a strong performance forward in the opener to claim a comfortable 72-run win at Headingley thanks to a century from their skipper.

AB de Villiers’ men had the chance to respond at the Ageas Bowl in their chase of 330, and although engineered themselves into a match-winning position in the final over they were unable to get over the line thanks to a fine spell of bowling from Mark Wood.

The defeat exposed once again South Africa’s propensity to collapse in the pressurised moments and will have concerned their captain and their coaching staff ahead of the tournament.

However, an excellent bowling display ensured that they would not be whitewashed at Lord’s, capitalising on favourable conditions to reduce England to 20-6.

The Three Lions reached managed to haul themselves to 153, but the Proteas chased down the total with ease to rebuild a fraction of their confidence ahead of Champions Trophy.

South Africa last won the competition back in 1998 when it existed in a short three-match format. It will take a stronger effort this time around to end their 19-year trophy drought.

We’ll now break down their betting odds for the Champions Trophy and assess the key men ahead of a potential surge for the title.

Batting

De Villiers has to fire for SA

The Proteas boast one of the most fearsome batting units in the tournament, with quality right down the order. Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock will get the innings off to a blistering start, especially the latter, who has all the shots in his repertoire to take apart any bowling attack.

De Kock has proven his calibre already on tour with a fine knock of 98 against England in the second ODI, although it was not enough to take his side over the line. However, it’s a positive sign for South Africa that the 24-year-old is scoring runs freely without being at his flowing best at the crease.

At the peak of his powers the opener can carve apart any bowling unit, with the highlight of his career coming against Australia, scoring a match-winning knock of 178. Similar performances will be needed to see his side to glory over the coming weeks.

De Villiers holds the key in the middle order for the Proteas. He can make an ordinary score into a match-winning effort in the space of five overs such is his ability to strike the ball out of the ground. The 33-year-old is able to manoeuvre the field and notching big sixes, making him a nightmare for all bowlers to face – no area of the ground is safe with the South Africa skipper at the crease.

He looked in decent touch against England scoring a half-century along with knocks of 45 and 27. The pressure will be on the skipper to propel his side forward in what could be his final appearance in the tournament. De Villiers should rise to the occasion therefore backing him at +333   with PaddyPower to top score is the bet to take.

Bowling

Tahir must rise to the occasion

Kasigo Rabada has been the breakout star for the Proteas over the last year. The 22-year-old has impressed with his pace and the consistency of his line, which has yielded a number of wickets and plaudits in his fledgling career.

England have discovered firsthand the difficulties of facing the right-arm quick and it was Rabada who led the charge at Lord’s claiming figures of 4/39 to lead his side to victory at Lord’s.

Should he maintain that level of performance, he should be a leading figure for the Proteas in their quest to win the tournament.

Rabada will be bowling at the start and the end of the innings, which opens up more possibilities to strike as batsmen will be desperate to either start on the front foot or end with a flourish. The 22-year-old has an excellent Yorker and that will be a vital weapon to strike with regularity at a key time in proceedings for the Proteas.

Imran Tahir enters the tournament after losing his place as the number one ranked bowler in ODI cricket to Rabada, although he is fresh off a good spell in the Indian Premier League with Rising Pune Supergiant. The 38-year-old has taken 127 wickets in his 75 matches at an outstanding average of 24.15, and he will be determined to enhance his reputation at a major 50-over competition.

He did not fare well in the first ODI against England at Headingley, suffering a wicketless nine-over spell for 68 runs. Tahir will be tested in the group stage against India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, but if he finds his rhythm he will be a forced to be reckoned with. Backing him at odds of +400   with SkyBet to be his side’s leading wicket taker would be a solid bet.

Winners?

South Africa have the talent to win the competition, but the challenge ahead of De Villiers’ is putting it all together in a major tournament.

The Proteas have had problems managing expectations in competitions, especially when they are put into the position of being favourites.

They proved that when they put in a complete performance – they can hammer the best sides in the world as displayed in their win over England and their series victory over Australia last year.

The Proteas have a diverse bowling attack, featuring the pace of Rabada, the guile of Chris Morris and the spinning threat of Tahir. Throw Wayne Parnell and Morne Morkel into the mix and that is a unit well worthy of winning the Champions Trophy.

Their batting line-up is even more formidable with several of the world’s top players in their side. De Villiers, Amla, De Kock and Faf du Plessis are capable of winning matches single-handed, but whether they will be able to rise to the occasion is another matter.

South Africa should be able to delve their way into the last four of the competition by winning Group B at odds of +140   with Bet365, but approach with caution their chances of winning the Champions Trophy of +400   with BetVictor due to their past collapses under pressure.

Tips Summary

South Africa To Win ICC Champions Trophy
1st June – 18th June 2017
Odds: +400

South Africa To Win ICC Champions Trophy Group B
1st June – 18th June 2017
Odds: +140

Imran Tahir To Be South Africa’s Top Bowler
1st June – 18th June 2017
Odds: +400

AB de Villiers To Be South Africa’s Top Batsman
1st June – 18th June 2017
Odds: +333