Proteas want to prove critics wrong against Australia

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The South African national cricket team will play Australia for the third time in a semi-final of a men’s Cricket World Cup when the two teams meet on Thursday in Kolkata. With the Proteas twice losing the previous times, the two teams have played in a World Cup semi-final, critics are already predicting that they will again lose this time around.

However, Cricket analyst Aslam Khota believes anything can happen in a knock-out match and the Proteas can win should luck be on their side on the day. The Proteas will have to prove critics wrong against an Australian side that has played so well, even winning matches that they were expected to lose.

Not many cricket fans in the country expected the Proteas to play as well as they have in this year’s tournament because of past disappointments. Many also had low expectations for the team because of the state the sport has been in, in recent years with new coaches also appointed at the beginning of this year.

New players have also been added to the team after some experienced campaigners retired from international cricket. Buoyed by the Springboks who defended their Rugby World Cup title in France, the Proteas have exceeded expectations and now have a date with their nemesis, Australia.

While the critics believe the Proteas will lose to Australia for the third time in a World Cup semi-final, Khota says it will be 50/50 and the Proteas cannot be written off as anything is possible in knock-out matches in all sporting codes.

“Knockout matches in sport can go either way it’s a 50/50 and luck also play a very important role so we cannot write the Proteas off,” says Khota.

Temba Bavuma’s leadership

Khota says looking at past winners of the Cricket World Cups, they all had great leaders as captains and Temba Bavuma’s leadership will play an important role in the team.

“Rick Ponting and some of the captains of teams that have won World Cups was a difference and with the Proteas we will see,” Khota adds.

With new Proteas coaches appointed this year, the mandate from Cricket South Africa would have been to just advance to the knockout stage of the tournament as it would be too soon to expect the team to win it.

And a lot of South Africans would still be happy with the team even if it loses to Australia on Thursday. But Khota says the country and cricket itself needs a big injection and a win is what’s needed.

“Anything less than a win is acceptable as the country needs a win and for the sport. It will be great if the Proteas can go all the way,” Khota elaborates.

India will play New Zealand on Wednesday in the first semi-final.