South Africa’s record-breaking win over Sri Lanka in its Cricket World Cup opener on Saturday was a show of strength from its sizzling top six, but if it is to end its tournament curse in the 50-over format, its bowling unit needs to fire.
South Africa amassed 428 for five, the highest score by any team at a World Cup, while it was only the fourth time in One-Day International history that three players made a century in the same innings.
Aiden Markram’s 49-ball hundred was the fastest at a World Cup as it put Sri Lanka to the sword on a placid wicket in Delhi.
It was not a batting performance out of nowhere – it scored 416 in an ODI against Australia last month and also posted scores of 338 and 316 in that series, which it won 3-2.
In Markram, Quinton de Kock, Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller it has four of the most destructive hitters in the game, to go with the more measured approach of Temba Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen in the top six.
“We have learned to play with positive thinking,” Markram said. “We’re known to start pretty slowly, be it in a series or world events.”
“But I think there’s a lot of passion in this team to give our absolute all at this World Cup and see how far it can get us. It’s nice for us to be able to go through the gears as a unit.”
South Africa will challenge any bowling attack, but whether it has the armoury with the ball to match that will decide its fate in this tournament.
At one stage Sri Lanka was on course to overhaul its total, before South Africa won by 102 runs.
It has a champion fast bowler in Kagiso Rabada and a wily spinner in Keshav Maharaj, but after that, it is the inconsistent Lungi Ngidi and the rawness of young seamers Marco Jansen and Gerald Coetzee.
Jansen took two wickets against Sri Lanka, but also went for 92 in his 10 overs.
“We asked for a clinical performance with ball and didn’t get that, but individual performances were good,” Bavuma said.
“We probably didn’t adjust early enough (to the conditions). Kesh (Maharaj) took the pace off and was very good, maybe we need to add spin options.”
South Africa also has wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi in its squad. It plays Australia in its second game on Thursday.
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