Proteas: It’s all or nothing

A need a win against Pakistan to have any hope of reaching the semifinals

Crisis management seems to be South Africa’s watchword in preparation for their crucial ICC Champions Trophy clash against Pakistan at Edgbaston tomorrow.

Pakistan did not have the best start to their tournament either, losing to the West Indies by two wickets at The Oval on Friday.

Proteas coach Gary Kirsten, in his last assignment with the team before handing over the reins to Russell Domingo, said an opportunity for renewal beckons. The Proteas will need more than that, though, against an enigmatic Pakistan team.

“I get excited by problems because in that lies opportunities. We can use that as an excuse when we play badly or it could be an opportunity for some new guys to make an impact in one of the best formats in world cricket. It’s as tough a

one-day competition can get in the world,” Kirsten said.

“Some of the guys have yet to hit their straps and we don’t have much time. We have to play well from now onwards. We weren’t on fire the other day against India.”

With Morné Morkel’s tournament over because of a quad muscle injury, Kirsten hinted at replacement Chris Morris getting a start in tomorrow’s match. He also said Dale Steyn, who did not play in the India match because of a side strain, could be available, but that his case was also touch and go.

“We’re hopeful that he can possibly play the next one, but a side strain is a tricky one and we’ll make a call tomorrow,” Kirsten said.

“It’s nice to have Morris here, and he has done well and comes with confidence, which is very important. I told him there was a fair chance he would be playing, and I think that’s exciting for him.”

South Africa may have an unblemished Champions Trophy record against Pakistan, but in the heat of competition that could amount to zero if they do not win.

Defeat will make it almost impossible for the Proteas to reach the semifinals.

In 2006 they got to the semifinals when India hosted the tournament, but their form leading up to the game wasn’t great.

Kirsten recognised the enormity of tomorrow’s game but said they would approach it in a relaxed manner.

“Generally, what we do is that we play very well and then we lose, so it’s not a bad thing that we haven’t fired. I would like to think of that as a bit of an omen. The problem is that you can’t have another bad game because you’ll be out of the competition,” Kirsten said.

“Pakistan is a dangerous team and I maintain they’ve got one of the better bowling units in world cricket. They’ve got great variety in their bowling attack and we saw that in South Africa. We’ve got our areas to exploit, but we need to be on our game.”

»Tshwaku is in the United Kingdom courtesy of Cricket South Africa

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