| Virender Sehwag, Man-of-the-Match in India’s eight-wicket demolition of England, on the eve of the semis against South Africa at Premadasa Stadium Tuesday. (Reuters)
Colombo: Wednesday will be a big test for Eric Simons. The South African coach who took over from Graham Ford after the debacle against Australia is facing the ‘ultimate’ test as they take on India in the first ICC Champions Trophy semi-final.
A victory would boost both his personal and the team morale considerably ahead of the World Cup in February-March. A defeat would mean starting all over again and thinking afresh.
“The Morocco tournament was big but this is huge. This is definitely my biggest match since assuming charge,” Simons admitted candidly Tuesday.
The enormity of the clash, however, does not mean they are planning fresh strategy. Rather, Simons and Co. will stick to their plan of adjusting the gameplan according to the situation.
“Strategies change with every ball. If the Indian openers get off to a rollicking start, like they did against England, we’ll bowl accordingly. You’ve to believe that you can get them out. If we manage to do so in the first 10 overs, which we hope to do, then automatically the plan changes,” Shaun Pollock explained.
There was slight drizzle here late Tuesday evening and that, too, could alter Simons’ strategies.
The South African skipper also seemed to be aware that the performance here will have its impact on the World Cup. “The excitement surrounding the World Cup will be enormous but a victory here will mean we can go into the showpiece event with renewed confidence.”
“I think we have the personnel,” he added. “We are pretty confident. We played nicely against Kenya and had a bit of a fright against West Indies. However, on the hindsight, it prepared us for a tight game.”
Amid the expectancy of high drama over the battle between Indian batsmen and the South African quicks, talk shifted to the indifferent form of Lance Klusener. The skipper was full of support for his trump-card and felt their hero of the last World Cup in England has not lost his touch.
“Lance believes he is in good form. If you ask any bowler in the world who they would not prefer to bowl in the death overs, the answer will be Lance. But we don’t want Lance to come in to bat, since if he does so, it will mean we have lost our top order,” quipped Pollock.
Heath Streak is likely to miss Zimbabwe’s home series against Pakistan later this year after dislocating his shoulder in a road accident Monday. The allrounder returned to the hotel Tuesday after an overnight stay at a hospital. The team is scheduled to leave Wednesday.