Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

‘The belief is there’, says Rabada, as Proteas brace for tougher battles

The SA team will face England in Saint Lucia on Friday and West Indies in Antigua on Sunday.

While they are trying not to put additional pressure on themselves by thinking ahead to the playoffs, the Proteas remain full of hope and confidence after staying unbeaten at the T20 World Cup.

Having won all four of their group stage matches, the SA team held off a gutsy United States side in Antigua on Wednesday night to win their first Super 8 game by 18 runs.

After being sent in to bat, the Proteas reached 194/4, anchored by opening batter Quinton de Kock who hit 74 runs off 40 balls to receive the Player of the Match award.

And though the US put up a real fight, fast bowler Kagiso Rabada led the Proteas attack, first strangling the American side’s top-order in the powerplay and then bowling superbly at the death as the tournament co-hosts were restricted to 176/6.

But the South Africans were again pushed hard by a lower-ranked side (as they had been throughout the opening round) and they were gearing up for even tougher battles which were expected against defending champions England in Saint Lucia on Friday (4.30pm SA time) and co-hosts West Indies in Antigua on Sunday.

‘Game by game’

Rabada insisted they were not looking too far ahead and were focussing on their next two matches in an attempt to book their place in the T20 World Cup semifinals for the first time since 2014.

“There’s no point in thinking about it (the playoffs). You just take it game by game,” Rabada said.

“The belief is there – if you don’t have the belief then you might as well go pack your bags and go home – and whatever happens after that happens, but the belief is there.”

New conditions

Having played in varied conditions at the global showpiece, De Kock said the Proteas were bracing themselves for a new environment in Saint Lucia, and he hoped they would adapt quickly enough to challenge the title holders tomorrow.

England beat West Indies by eight wickets with 15 balls to spare in the early hours of yesterday morning, climbing to the top of the Super 8 group, one place ahead of the Proteas on net run rate.

“We’ve still got a couple more games to win, and the next one is at a different venue on a different surface. You never know what you’re going to get out there,” De Kock said.

For more news your way

Download our app and read this and other great stories on the move. Available for Android and iOS.