Predicted XI of South Africa for Champions Trophy

Predicted XI of South Africa for Champions Trophy

South Africa has the right personnel to go on and win their second CT title after winning the inaugural edition in 1998.

Kagiso Rabada of South Africa
Kagiso Rabada of South Africa celebrates with teammates. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

After winning the inaugural edition of the Champions Trophy in 1998, South Africa is in quest of a second title. They have just one ICC trophy to their name in all these years despite having a number of talented cricketers in their side over the past two decades. This time too, they have quality players in the squad and start as one of the tournament favourites again.

South Africa played an ODI series against England to get warmed up for the mega event. The score line of 2-1 does not reflect the actual scenario of cricket played in the series. Led by AB de Villiers, the Proteas have a squad who can go the distance to lift the championship. The absence of Dale Steyn, who is nursing an injury, will affect them but they have a number of quality bowlers in the side to make up for the star bowler’s non-participation.

They are placed in Group B alongside India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It is a question of how they soak up the pressure in big games. They are known to falter when the stakes are high and this is a perfect time to prove their detractors wrong. The 3-match series against a quality side like England was ideal preparation going into the tournament.

Let us have a look at the Predicted XI for South Africa for the eighth edition of the Champions Trophy:

Openers (Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock)

Amla recently became the fastest batsman to reach 7,000 ODI runs, eclipsing Virat Kohli by 11 innings. The right-hander is a class batsman to have at the top of the order as he has the right blend of attack and defence to survive in English conditions. He hit two half-centuries in the 3 games to get into the right kind of form ahead of the tournament. He is a senior statesman in this team and will have to strike the telling blows upfront.

Even since making his debut in 2013, de Kock has established a fine opening combination with Amla for South Africa. The left-right hand combinations ensured that the bowlers adjust their line every now and again which is not ideal for any bowler. All of just 24, de Kock has already racked up 12 ODI hundreds. He gets his runs quickly which takes the pressure off Amla. The left-hander has a penchant for scoring big runs which is what South Africa expects of him.

Middle Order (Faf du Plessis, AB De Villiers, JP Duminy and David Miller)

Faf du Plessis has been a heavy scorer in ODI cricket since 2013. He has made the No. 3 spot his own. He has the responsibility of building a platform for the big-hitters to explode at the end. The right-hander is himself capable of hitting the long ball towards the end of an innings. He is a part of the leadership group and is an outstanding all-round fielder.

De Villiers made 125 runs in the 3-match series after getting dismissed twice. He has been ever consistent for South Africa over the past decade and will occupy the No. 4 slot. An average in excess of 54 in this format suggests what he is capable of doing. De Villiers has always expressed his desire to lift an ICC Trophy and this is his chance to perform and achieve a second CT title for his country

The experience of Duminy is vital for South Africa as he will bat at the No. 5 position. Being a left-hander, Duminy takes care of the left-arm spinners in the opposite sides. He is another batsman who can build an innings and can get quick runs towards the end. His off-spin bowling has evolved a lot in the last year and De Villiers will love to have him as a bowling option.

Miller made an outstanding 71* in the second ODI and almost pulled off an improbable win for his team. They eventually fell short by 2 runs but Miller batted to the best of his ability to get his side in a winning position at one stage. His big hitting abilities make him an ideal candidate at No. 6. Miller has been a consistent performer for his country and will need to churn out the runs as and when required by his team.

All-rounders (Chris Morris)

Morris’ addition to the team has given South Africa the right balance. His batting abilities coupled with his immaculate bowling make him an important cog in the wheels of South Africa. Morris had an outstanding IPL where he shone with both bat and ball for his franchise Delhi Daredevils. His 35* in the second ODI was another reminder of his immense improvement as a batsman, which is probably why he is in the South African squad.

Bowlers (Kagiso Rabada, Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo/Keshav Maharaj and Imran Tahir)

Rabada took 7 wickets in 3 games out of which, 4 came in the last ODI where he demolished the English side in his first spell to rock the top order. He is a wicket-taking bowler who does a fair job during the death overs. Rabada will be leading the Proteas attack in this tournament due to Steyn’s absence.

Parnell, in company of Rabada, was a partner in crime in the last ODI as he finished the game with 3/43. Parnell swings the new ball back into the right-handers, which is why he is in the side. The left-arm quick has always been under pressure to hold onto his place in XI and this tournament will be no different. Parnell needs to keep delivering to perpetuate his position in the XI.

Phehlukwayo is a seam bowling allrounder who has already played 16 games for the country. At 21, this cricketer is capable of performing the dual of being a first change bowler and a handy No.8. He will be replaced by a spinner, most probably by Keshav Maharaj, whenever the conditions are suited to the spinners. Phehlukwayo needs to make the best use of whatever chances comes his way during the course of the tournament.

Imran Tahir will be the lone spinner in the XI apart from the part-time spin of JP Duminy. Tahir is a wrist spinner who can extract turn from any wicket he plays on. His variation, coupled with his experience makes him the best spinner available for the Proteas. A successful campaign for RPS is a reminder of how good he is in the trade at 38. De Villiers uses Tahir brilliantly often handing him the ball when the situation is tough. The leg-spinner yet again will be his skipper’s go-to man whenever he will be in need of a wicket.