Cricket World Cup 2023 SA vs PAK | South Africa and chases… nothing simple and straightforward

South Africa’s Aiden Markram during the match between Pakistan and South Africa.

South Africa’s Aiden Markram during the match between Pakistan and South Africa.
| Photo Credit: RAGU R

For a tournament that had mostly seen lopsided contests for the first three weeks, South Africa and Pakistan served a thriller in which both teams at various stages were brilliant, amateur and somewhere in between as well.

It was the perfect final game of the World Cup at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, where a nearly 30,000-strong crowd cheered both teams enthusiastically, appreciating quality cricket.

In the end, Temba Bavuma’s men somehow prevailed despite making a mess of a straightforward chase. While the one-wicket win has almost sealed the African nation’s place in the last four, the Proteas again showed their propensity to panic and make a hash of things unprovoked.

The team’s approach in this World Cup is to be aggressive with its batting firepower, which has worked wonders when batting first.

“I think we did have luck on our side. We did give them opportunities to get into the game”Temba Bavuma

But ahead of the match, it was apparent South Africa’s weakness would be chasing, with its only loss coming against The Netherlands when batting second, and it nearly tripped up again in the same department on Friday.

Against Pakistan, when Aiden Markram was going well at one end, and the asking rate was well under control, its batters ought to have been more circumspect, especially when playing with just six batters and five bowlers.

Bavuma conceded the team doesn’t have a blueprint while chasing yet and that they will need to figure it out soon.

“We obviously have a blueprint when batting first, and we’ve shown that in terms of the scores we have been able to post. We can’t say with conviction that we do have the blueprint when we are chasing. We’re going to get into this situation again, that I do know, and we obviously want to show more of a clinical display with the bat,” said the South African skipper in the post match presentation.

“I think we did have luck on our side. We did give them opportunities to get into the game. But fortunately for us, I think the gods were with us,” he added.

Bavuma also agreed the team needs to be more calculative and temper their aggressive approach according to the situation.

The in-form Heinrich Klassen was one such offender trying to launch Mohammad Wasim into the stands when the team had just lost a wicket a few overs before. Similarly, bowling all-rounder Jansen collected 10 runs off two balls and brought the equation to just needing 36 more runs in the 37th over. But instead of applying himself, he gave a simple catch off the next ball when all he needed to do was stick around with Markram.

“We didn’t show that control. I think I’ve said this probably 50 times, we’ve spoken about our brand of cricket being positive but I think probably in situations like that there is room for us to maybe be a bit more calculative, maybe identify where the risks are and how we can have low risk options in terms of coming up against whatever the challenges are.”

“Again, like I said, I think it’s conversations that we’re going to need to have, and it’s the learnings that we’re going to have to take out of performances like these,” the skipper explained.

Eventually, Markram himself would play a loose shot against Usama Mir with 21 runs left to set the cat amongst the pigeons. Fortunately, his sensational 91 cushioned the lower-order collapse, allowing the last three batters to crawl across the line. For a team struggling to shake off the chokers tag in ICC events, South Africa can’t afford to make the mistakes it did against Pakistan if it harbours any hope of winning the elusive World Cup.

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