Mickey Arthur’s world no.1 South African side will be keen to record their second straight super eight win when they face Ireland in Guyana.
The South Africans faced Ireland in a pre tournament friendly, and they were in a bit of a hole at 91/8 batting first. They eventually reached 191, and the Irish had victory in their grasp at 137/4 and in the end, it was a superb all round display from Andrew Hall which rescued the Proteas. Since the game against the Lankans went too close for comfort, the South Africans will want to win this one as emphatically as possible. The form of Shaun Pollock is a bit of concern for the Proteas, as he has been attacked by the opposition. The Irish, with their batting upfront are unlikely to do what Gilchrist and Jayasuriya did, and Pollock will target this game for a return to his mean ways.The South African lower order will be concerned at the way they surrendered to the slingy bowling of Lasith Malinga, who took four wickets in four balls before Robin Peterson hit that all vital four. Peterson will have an important role to play with his left arm spinners on the slow, Guyana wicket.
The Irish have surprised everyone by reaching this stage, and it is their courage and team spirit which has won the heart of many a cricket fan. They gave England a good fight in their first super eight game, which they narrowly lost by 47 runs.The Irish top four, all of whom are left handers will need to come good. South Africa will especially have to be wary of opener Jeremy Bray, and wicket keeper Niall O’Brien. The two have batted exceptionally well, and they have acted as the pivots around which the Irish batting has rotated.Boyd Rankin again showed why he poses a threat, against England, and the South Africans would have analyzed him. Trent Johnston’s role with bat and ball cannot be discounted and his captaincy will also be an important determinant of the way the Irish play.
South Africa play Bangladesh after this, but they know that they should not take the Irish lightly, as they did in the warm up game. This is the super eight, and I do not expect South Africa to slip up. A victory for them is my prediction, and Pollock and their openers to play well