The game everybody has so eagerly awaited to see has arrived. Yes folks, World no.1 South Africa take on defending champions Australia in a Group A encounter at the Warners stadium in St Kitts today.
The South Africans have won both their games, and so have their opponents today. They have created several world records in the process, the six sixes by Gibbs being the most prominent among them. The Warners stadium is amongst the smallest ones in the Carribean, and the Proteas have taken full advantage of it in the two games that they have played so far. The Proteas have recently taken the no.1 spot from their opponents and they will be keen to prove that it was no fluke, and that they are indeed better than the side that they have shared such a fierce rivalry with over the last few years. There are no major changes expected from the South African point of view, but Andre Nel may come in for Charl Langdevelt. Nel sat out for Makhaya Ntini in the game against Scotland. The major weakness for the Africans, as it always has been, is the lack of a quality spinner in their ranks.
The Australians have simply pulverized every opposition they have met after their wobble Down Under into submission. Holland and Scotland were battered orange and blue, and now they will be keen to dish out the same to Graeme Smith’s side. Andrew Symonds has made a remarkably fast recovery from injury, and he will return to the squad in place of Brad Hodge. Symonds is a vital cog in the Aussie wheel- he is their fifth bowler, he bats them out of trouble, and he is an excellent fielder. He is the kind of match winner that captains would love to have in their playing eleven.Brad Hogg may have a role to play, given that some of the Proteas are not very comfortable against the turning ball.
This is the first world cup game between the two sides since the 1999 tied semifinal at Edgbaston, where the Aussies progressed to the final as they had beaten the South Africans in the super six as well. That game is considered to be one of the best in World Cup history, and last March’s game where South Africa successfully chased down 434 was a cracker as well. We are sure to get value for our money in this game. On paper, I’d say the Aussies are favourites but something tells me that the Proteas will nick this one.None of the bowlers to really shine, but Symonds, Kallis and Gibbs will be the key.