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By most metrics, we're stacking up pretty well against India, asserts van der Dussen

Last updated on 02 Nov 2023 | 05:21 AM
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By most metrics, we're stacking up pretty well against India, asserts van der Dussen

Against New Zealand, one of the most impressive sides in the competition, things were not supposed to be easy, but the Saffers hardly cared

It has been a while since we have witnessed South Africa dominate a World Cup. This edition has been a pleasant surprise for the Protea fans. While most of their wins have come while batting first - five of the six wins, to be precise - they have nailed this template with absolute authority.

Against New Zealand, one of the most impressive sides in the competition, things were not supposed to be easy, but the Saffers hardly cared. They stuck to their template, although went a little slower than usual during the middle overs but finished with a vehemently destructive show in the death as usual. So much so that they secured a 190-run victory to ensure every single side in the World Cup will struggle to catch up with their NRR. They have been so dominant in overs 41-50 that their run rate of 11.1 is 2.5 runs per over ahead of the next-best Australia (8.6)

Sitting at the top of the table for now, the Temba Bavuma-led side will now take on India at the Eden Gardens. No matter their past success, they will be up against a side who are oozing confidence, having won all of their games so far. Further, the daunting Kolkata crowd may add a sense of uneasiness to the South African attack. However, the centurion against New Zealand, Rassie van der Dussen, is hardly perturbed by that.

“I think what we've done really well is in this campaign is we're really just focusing on what we want to do and how we want to play it,” Rassie van der Dussen said in the post-match press conference in Pune. “In our match review meetings, we keep looking at the numbers with the coaches, and so far in this tournament, by most metrics, we're stacking up pretty well. So, at the end of the day, it's almost irrelevant who's in front of you. We know if we play the way we want to play and execute how we want to and take the correct options, especially under pressure, then the result is a byproduct of that.

And van der Dussen is not joking when he said that they are stacking up well on most metrics. South Africa have the enviable and almost improbable combination of the lowest dot ball percentage (44.4%) and the best balls per boundary record (7.2) in the competition. 

“So obviously, playing India in India is a massive event. They've been playing really well. A lot of experience in their team. They've got all bases covered, brilliant bowling attack, and obviously the batting as well. But again, as I said, we'll go into that game knowing that if we do the things well that we want to do, we'll be in a really strong position.

"The challenge is to be under pressure, to stay with that, and that's what we'll look to do. But we've played them here before, and we've beaten them here before. So, in a sense, it's, even though it's a World Cup, it's not really too much different. We won't be looking at that too much. Yeah, if that answers your question.”

One of the major success factors for South Africa is the way their outgoing batter Quinton de Kock, is batting in the tournament. In seven games, the South African opener has already amassed 545 runs at an incredible average of 77.86 and has found himself in the touching distance of breaking Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 673 runs - the highest in a single edition of the World Cup. 

“It's been so good to have Quinny. He has a determination about him that I haven't seen in a long time. He's ploughing back into the team in all aspects, in the bowling meetings, in the batting meetings, being one of our senior guys. The guys really feed off him. He's one of my favourite guys to bat with. He really guided me through my innings today,” van der Dussen said.

“At times, I was under pressure, and I was asking him about a few options and just to sort of soundboard with him out in the middle. He's such a cool and calm guy out there; thinks so clearly. It was just great to bat with him. But he's been brilliant in the last few weeks. Very determined. He's not all talky - he does it out on the field. And I think that's really inspirational for us as a team and the rest of the guys on the team to see a guy like that really come up with a good.”

In seven matches so far, South Africa batted first five times and won all of them. But in two games, they batted second - they lost to the Netherlands and, in the next, suffered a long haul to win against Pakistan. However, RvD is not too fussed about that and stated that their decisions have stemmed from understanding the conditions.

“I keep telling the guys I love when we lose the toss because, like I feel like when you win the toss and bowl first, you're looking to strike up front and put the batting team under pressure. We would have batted first as well today because last night we were training and it was swinging around a bit. We knew that the dew might come in later, but I think that's a brilliant thing about bowling attack. They struck early and we never even got to a place where the dew played a massive role.

“Very happy to bat first again today and we keep refining the way we want to play. And we were really good at times today, but also, yeah, I just was speaking to Klaasen just now in the change room, and we probably left a few runs out there still. So, there are definite places to improve. So, we'll look at that tomorrow,” van der Dussen added.

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