Can South Africa break the semi-final barrier?

Every time South Africa enters the World Cup as the contenders to win the title. They perform according to the expectations and qualify for the knockouts only to face an agonizing loss to bow out of the tournament.

Out of seven appearances in World Cup, they have reached semi-finals four times. Having managed to win their first ever knockout game in the 2015 World Cup by defeating Sri Lanka in the quarter-final, reach the semi-finals four times out of seven appearances in World Cup so far, the rainbow nation till date has never managed to enter the final.

With the heart-breaking loss to New Zealand in the semi-finals of the 2015 World Cup, still fresh in the minds, the Proteas will look to cross the semi-final hurdle at least this time.

Led by Faf du Plessis, South Africa once again looks strong on paper. In the batting lineup, they have two strong openers in Quinton de Kock and the experienced Hashim Amla alongside skipper du Plessis, JP Duminy and David Miller. With Chris Morris, Dwaine Pretorius and Andile Phehlukwayo as all-rounders, they can bat deep.

Their bowling has all the bases covered, led by the young and menacing Kagiso Rabada. With Dale Steyn, Lungi Ngidi and Rabada forming a formidable pace trio, they will be expected to make the most of the English conditions.

In Phehlukwayo, Morris and Pretorius, they also have reliable pace options to choose from. Du Plessis will depend heavily on Imran Tahir, who is at the form of his life. Playing his last tournament for the Proteas, the forty-year-old is expected to finish his career on a high.

One big threat for South Africa is the form of Dale Steyn. He hasn’t been at his best in recent times and faced many injuries in the last two years. Even in the recent IPL he was forced to head back to South Africa after an injury. SA wants the pacer to return to his best. Steyn needs just four wickets to break the 200-barrier at the World Cup.

South Africa does have experience on its side but lacks proven match-winners in the team. However, the team has all the capabilities to break the jinx in the World Cup.

NT Bureau