South Africa went into the ICC Champions Trophy as joint favourites to lift the title yet a stuttering performance in the group stage almost caused them an embarrassing early exit.
The Proteas have made the semi-finals and are very likely to face hosts England at the Oval on Wednesday, a clash that many cricket betting punters expected to witness one round later. Yet South Africa’s inefficiencies with the bat and ball means they slipped up and only made the knockout stage thanks to a reasonable 234/9 against Pakistan and a rain delay versus West Indies.
Their campaign did not get off to the best of starts as Morne Morkel and Ryan McLaren laboured against India’s openers, the Proteas attack conceding 127 runs before the first wicket. Shikhar Dhawan made South Africa toil until JP Duminy finally took his man, by which point India were well on their way to a 331 finish.
In return, Robin Petersen, AB de Villiers and McLaren all made half centuries but the spine of their order was just too weak against the Indian swing.
That 26-run defeat should have set alarm bells ringing in the SA dressing room and a comfortable 67-run victory over Pakistan was to be expected. In fact, a 230 total from just 31 overs was a respectable haul against West Indies, who are frequent favourites in the cricket betting odds, but South Africa faltered in their bowling and were lucky the rain came when it did.
Duminy almost cost his side the match after going 29 runs off three overs without a wicket for his troubles, while McLaren fared even worse. The 30-year-old was beaten all over before the rain came, recording a 10.73 economy from just 3.1 overs.
The points were eventually shared in Cardiff and South Africa scraped through to the semis thanks to a better net run rate. However, they will not be so lucky against England on Wednesday, for the hosts’ bowling attack ripped apart New Zealand and will do the same to this Proteas side that have offered so little this tournament.