Chasing Proteas’ nemesis

South Africa face battle to buck losing trend when fielding first

SATURDAY’S debacle against Pakistan in Auckland was the latest example of a worrying truth: South Africa have lost the art of chasing down targets. Their 2011 World Cup ended in shambolic fashion in the quarterfinal in Dhaka when they failed to reel in New Zealand’s mediocre 221.

That soft serve performance echoed around Eden Park on Saturday, when South Africa were dismissed 29 runs short of the 232 they needed to beat Pakistan.

South Africa’s sorry performance snared the attention of Graeme Smith, who wrote in his column on the International Cricket Council website: “One of the most glaring issues to come out of [the] loss was the continued struggle the Proteas have with regard to chasing.

“The only lesson that came from this batting rehearsal was that [SA] have a lot more work to do in very little time. Even with one pool game to go [against the United Arab Emirates in Wellington on Thursday] their attention would have shifted to the likely quarterfinal opponents of Sri Lanka or Australia, who would definitely have noted that their chasing travails continued.”

And that by a team who in five days at the tournament became the first side to post consecutive totals of at least 400 in one-day internationals.

South Africa batted first in those matches, against West Indies and Ireland, as they did in their opening game of the World Cup against Zimbabwe. AB de Villiers’ men won all of those matches.

Saturday’s defeat was South Africa’s second of the tournament. They suffered their first against India in Melbourne on February 22 – when they crashed and burned for 177 chasing 308 to win.