T20 World Cup 2022 – SA vs Zim

South Africa has ‘no regrets’ after their… washing out against Zimbabwe in Hobart they saw a point drop in the T20 World Cup and believe they are “still in control” of their fate in the tournament.
“We have not had a good history with rain”, the departing coach Mark Boucher said, recalling how South Africa lost in a rain-stricken semi-final in the 1992 World Cup, misread a DLS sheet and exited the first round of the 2003 World Cup, losing in another restricted match in the Over-50 World Championship in 2015 final four. “But we’d rather have it in the first game, now where we’re still in control of what we can actually do.”

South Africa did everything it could to beat the weather. Chasing a revised target of 64, they rose to 51 for 0 in just three overs. And from that standpoint, Boucher admitted they were “frustrated” at getting “so close”, only to see it “taken away”.

“You walk away from this game thinking we were through, whether the game should have happened or not,” he said.

That’s what some might disagree with. Zimbabwe Coach Dave Houghton was critical of the umpires’ decision to keep the players on the field on a night dominated by bad weather and a wet outfield. But Boucher only went so far as to call the conditions “tough” and indicated that there was a willingness on all sides to get the game going.

“We are here to play a World Cup and of course we wanted to play. It seemed like both captains wanted to play from the start,” he said.

South Africa vs Zimbabwe was delayed by a rain stoppage in the earlier game between Bangladesh and the Netherlands and took place 30 minutes after it was originally scheduled. The game would have started 15 minutes from then, but continued drizzle caused a two and a half hour delay and reduced the game to nine overs per side. Zimbabwe’s innings were uninterrupted, despite some spitting that turned into a light rain, and they set South Africa’s goal of 80.

Each team must play a minimum of five overs to form a T20 game. This one finished 12 balls shorter than that cut-off.

At that point South Africa was 51 to 0 – well past the five-over DLS par score for the loss of no wickets (44). So if the rain had at least eased to the point where the umpires believed there could be a five-over match, South Africa would have won without even getting back on the pitch. But the rain didn’t stop, there was no play and the points were shared. Something similar had happened in the Champions Trophy 2017.

Rather than dwelling on the what-ifs of the situation, Boucher was pragmatic. “There is not much more we can do. We maximized what we could, so there is no regret in our dressing room,” he said. “We did what we could and unfortunately we didn’t get another ten balls to get the job done.”

Even if the target had remained 64, they probably wouldn’t have needed that many supplies, given how Quinton de Kock (47* out of 18) played. “Quinny is one of the most dangerous hitters in the world when he plays like that. It’s nice from a coaching perspective to see him go out and play with that freedom,” said Boucher. “In a league like this, guys can be a little tense at times. It’s really good to see Quinny play the free flowing game that we know is very dangerous.”
Asked if South Africa, especially with the threat of rain, has considered sending anyone other than the unformed captain? Temba Bavuma to call off the chase, Boucher said if they had that idea, it was just fleeting. “There may have been a thought, but it’s a decision where you can’t play for rain. I thought it was a good chance for Temba to express himself and lead from the front. We want to keep giving Temba the chance to have some sort of rhythm in his percussion.”

Bavuma still gets the support of the coach even as he sidelines in-form Reeza Hendricks, with Boucher using the example of banking their highest-ranked bowler in the format – Tabraiz Shamsi – as a comparison.

“Temba was injured, he owned that spot and he’s the captain. He wasn’t on top form, but he got sick in India and these conditions are also much better suited to his game. He has hit the nets really well, is also what I can say,” said Boucher. “It’s tough, not just for him (Hendricks). We decided to go with the extra sailor today, which was a bit hard for Shammo, but I think it was the right decision. We have some good options for the future .”

South Africa will continue to adopt a horses-by-course selection strategy as they progress through the tournament and into critical situations. “It’s a difficult group and there’s probably one game we really need to win.”

Barring major disruptions in this group, South Africa’s match against Pakistan on Thursday, November 3, could be the virtual quarter-final, but much remains to be done before then. South Africa will face Bangladesh on Thursday and India on Sunday in results that could prove crucial later in the play.

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