New Delhi, Feb 22 (IANS) Jacques Kallis has been part of the South African teams which went to the World Cup as ‘favourites’ only to choke when it came to the crunch. The unwanted tag of chokers is something that Kallis and his team are reminded at every major event.
Both Kallis and his teammates want to bury the past once and for all at his fourth World Cup here.
“It is certainly something that does not haunt us,” asserted the battled-hardened Kallis fielding the question for the umpteenth time in his illustrious career.
“I think a lot is made of the chokers tag, particularly by the media. We certainly don’t talk about it, we don’t even think about it. People need to go and really look up the word choker in the dictionary and get the correct meaning.”
It is entirely a new team here, says Kallis, wondering how can they be clubbed with the past sides.
“We have a lot of young players, I think 11 of the 15 haven’t played in a World Cup before so the past performance doesn’t even cross our mind. We don’t worry about the past and we just look ahead to play good cricket.”
Sadly, the South Africans are only remembered for their good cricket, even when they had the team to win the cup. Often they buckled under pressure and the fate conspired against them. The one ball 22 runs equation under rain rule in 1992 semifinals against England, the infamous run-out against Australia in 1999 and the miscalculation of Duckworth Lewis in 2003 have all conjured up to deny South Africa.
Kallis more than anyone else knows that handling pressure will be the key in the knockout stages.
“Teams that play the best cricket under pressure in the knockout games and also in one or two key group games will come on top.
“It is going to boil down to who gets to the next stage and once you get down to
the quarter-finals, semi-finals or the final anything can happen on the day because the teams are so evenly matched.”
South Africa’s variety in bowling will complement their strong batting line-up. Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel are top pacers in the tournament while Johan Botha, Robin Peterson and much talked about Pakistan-born leg-spinner Imran Tahir form the impressive spin attack.
“We have good fast bowlers and got some interesting spinners, we got an old guy, an old all-rounder who bowls every now and again,” quipped Kallis.
“So we have got a nice, varied attack for the conditions here and hopefully adapt to them quickly. We just need to produce the goods now.”
Kallis says that Tahir is an exciting prospect.
“We haven’t had a leg-spinner playing for us in a very long time. I think the last unorthodox spinner we had was Paul Adams. It brings something different and puts a little bit of doubt in the batsman’s mind. We have got a leg-spinner, off-spinner and a left-arm spinner.”
Kallis has been out of action since the first week of January with a rib injury after being hit by Shantakumaran Sreesanth in the Test series against India.
“It’s been good (recovery). I have been bowling now for a week and seem to be 100 percent going into the first game.”
Kallis said his team will have to be fully geared up to play West Indies in ther first match here Thursday.
“They (West Indies) are a dangerous side. They got a few players who can change a game and we got to be at our best. You can’t take any side lightly here because one result going against you can put you under pressure.
“We have played some really good cricket against the West Indies of late. Hopefully we can start well to put them under pressure.”