South Africa’s recent and overall record against the West Indies is impressive, but you would not think so the way their senior player Faf du Plesis spoke yesterday at the Sydney Cricket Ground, where these two teams will meet in a crucial Pool B clash on a superb looking track.
Gayle’s onslaught of 215 in his last innings after a lean period of form, have the South Africans very wary of the threat he now poses, especially since they lost their last match to India thanks to another devastating left-hander in Shikar Dhawan who also posted a match-winning century.
“It’s unfortunate that Zimbabwe decided to bowl Chris Gayle into some really good form. We know what kind of team they are, they can be very, very dangerous,” Du Plesis told reporters after the South Africans practised.
The West Indies didn’t have that luxury. After their historic win versus Zimbabwe in Canberra, they travelled early the next morning for Sydney only to arrive at the team hotel in the afternoon where it rained most of the evening.
Despite the hectic travel, they still remain an eminent threat having scored over 300 runs in their last four matches, although South Africa would push their chest high following a 4-1 thrashing of the West Indies only last month.
But it is Gayle that remains on their minds. In Du Plesis’ words, he watched in amazement as to how Gayle took apart Zimbabwe.
“His one-day stats are probably not as good as his T20 stats. But he’s still a very dangerous player. So on the day that he gets in, he scores his runs very quickly, and he takes the match away from you. From a tactical point of view it’s very important for us to get him out early.
“Their whole batting line-up works like that, they play shots. It’s great in the sense that you have a chance to get wickets, but if you don’t, they get the runs very quickly,” explained the South African player.
He also pointed out that the last series they played against the Windies means nothing tomorrow and warned his colleagues that they need to show some more maturity at the World Cup if their batting is to be consistent.
Not for the first time this season, the West Indies are monitoring the fitness off left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn.
He missed the first match to Ireland with a sore back and had a repeat of the injury in Canberra which forced his late withdrawal from the XI.
His replacement Nikita Miller looked short on form and the Windies bowling which has been their sore thumb once again looked weak.
The bowling unit probably still wake up in cold sweats thinking about how South Africa’s two most devastating batsmen in captain AB De Villiers and Hashim Amla treated them last month.
Those two haven’t seriously struck yet, but like we’ve seen in this tournament it only takes one innings from a world class player to grab the headlines.