England, who recorded a morale-boosting win over Sri Lanka the other day, players share a light moment during training at the MA Aziz Stadium in Chittagong yesterday. PHOTO: ANURUP KANTI DAS
From almost being knocked out of the tournament, South Africa now have the opportunity to become the first team from Chittagong to progress to the semi finals of the ICC World Twenty20 when they take on a confident England, fresh from their thrilling win against Sri Lanka, at the Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium today.
For the Proteas, the tournament so far has been about comebacks. From defending seven off the last over against New Zealand to edging past a spirited Dutch side, there were quite a few moments which saw them on the brink of an exit. While their batting disappointed, it has been the likes of Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir who have helped them stutter over the finish line on both occasions; it was an aspect that their coach Russel Domingo wants to improve upon.
“We haven't batted well, our thinking during our innings has not been what it used to be. I will be the first to admit that after being 90 for two (versus Holland) after nine overs we should have got to the 170-180 mark, but there were some poor thinking, poor dismissals at crucial stages which set us back,” said Domingo at the pre-match press conference.
An almost similar scenario transpired in the game against New Zealand when the Proteas stumbled to 41 for three. Had it not been for JP Duminy's fiery 86, they would not have stood a chance.
Keeping the bygones aside, the Proteas will look to take the positives from their close wins and seal a spot in the semis.
“We can take a lot of positives out of the way we dealt with the pressure in these two tight games and we can fall back on those experiences when we get into tight games as the competition progresses,” reckoned Domingo.
England on the other hand, are on a high after having accomplished one of the best T20 chases in their history. While the Proteas lead the head-to-head record by four games to three, they will face the extra challenge of playing their first night game in Chittagong as opposed to England's two; an aspect captain Stuart Broad believes will affect the South Africans.
“The chase against Sri Lanka is one of the best I ever witnessed. It was historic chasing 190, Alex Hales getting his first 100, but most importantly got the team over the line. The confidence and belief we get from that going into our final two games is going to be huge,” said Broad.
“We have got the advantage of playing two games under lights. I think the conditions are completely different. We can use the advantage from our first two games on Saturday,” he added.