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regular-article-logo Thursday, 18 July 2024

World Cup semi-final: Allan Donald puts his money on 'calm' South Africans against Australia

This South African unit, in spite of their dominant showing over five-time champions Australia, 2019 winners England and twice runners-up New Zealand, were also stung by the Netherlands and given a hammering by hosts India. Australia, on the other hand, are on a seven-match unbeaten streak

Sayak Banerjee Calcutta Published 15.11.23, 10:43 AM
Allan Donald at Eden Gardens during Bangladesh’s World Cup campaign

Allan Donald at Eden Gardens during Bangladesh’s World Cup campaign Sourced by the Telegraph

South Africa’s painful exit from the 1999 World Cup after the tied semi-final against Australia in Birmingham is still fresh in Allan Donald’s memory. However, when Donald watches the Proteas take on the Australians in another World Cup semi-final clash on Thursday at the Eden, the pace legend will back his countrymates to play to their full potential and replicate the performances that earned them a last-four berth.

This South African unit, in spite of their dominant showing over five-time champions Australia, 2019 winners England and twice runners-up New Zealand in the league phase, were also stung by the Netherlands and given a hammering by hosts India. Australia, on the other hand, are on a seven-match unbeaten streak.

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The Quinton de Kocks and Kagiso Rabadas will need to play “seriously, seriously well” against this charged-up Australian side, Donald agreed. But the fact that there’s still a lot of calmness in the group even after their heavy defeat to India makes Donald a lot more confident about what this South African team can achieve.

“I listened to Eric Simons (Proteas bowling coach) the other day when he spoke about the loss to India and that they’ve had some time to reflect. They’ve had good chats and there’s still a real great calmness in the group.

“So, they’re not like shaken up after losing to India, and even in my experience during World Cups, you’re going to get an absolute hiding at some point. And I think that was India’s perfect game,” the former South Africa pace spearhead, who
was Bangladesh’s bowling coach before ending his contract following their Cup
campaign, told The Telegraph from Cape Town on Monday evening.

Of all the four matches at the Eden so far in this World Cup, the team batting first has won comfortably. South Africa, too, should fancy their chances more if they bat first on Thursday, Donald feels.

The Proteas, in fact, have won all the matches where they batted first. “Things do happen at night. The ball seems to do a little bit off the seam and swings for a little bit longer.

“Besides, every time South Africa have batted first this time, they have piled on the pressure by scoring 380, 390 and even 400 while Australia, when they have chased, looked a bit suspect,” Donald, who represented the Proteas in four World Cups from 1992-2003, pointed out.

Combination

Donald expects South Africa to continue with Rabada, Marco Jansen and Lungi Ngidi, with left-armers Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi looking after the
spin department.

“When we played at the Eden in those two games (Bangladesh-Netherlands and Bangladesh-Pakistan), the ball skid at night and turned a bit. But South Africa should back their seam attack, while I also believe they will go with Maharaj and Shamsi, leaving out pacer (Gerald) Coetzee.

“I see that happening as it’s about picking horses for courses,” Donald said.

‘Methodical’ India

What impressed Donald most about India’s pace trio of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami is their presence of mind alongside the aggression they have shown so far in this World Cup.

“India’s attack is simply sublime. Being clinical in their own backyard, they have suffocated teams with their swing and the ball nipping off the seam as well with excellent use of the cross-seam deliveries.

“You would expect India to be that good at home and knowing the conditions better than anybody else. They’ve have been so, so methodical and clinical, and playing with so much presence of mind and aggression. That bowling attack, too, has helped them to set things up.”

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