Will keep calm for knockout game: SA coach

By Agency Published on Jun 12, 2017 11:19 AM IST

South Africa’s team management is trying to keep the players calm and convince them to carry on their cricket as normal ahead of the knockout match against India on Sunday.

Following South Africa’s defeat to Pakistan, and India’s subsequent loss to Sri Lanka, the match at The Oval is a winner-takes-all affair, and given South Africa’s history in knockout matches it’s understandable if butterflies are fluttering in their stomach.

But batting coach Neil McKenzie said the backroom boys were trying to keep belief high. "Because there is no insurance, you can sometimes take a knockout game too seriously and put too much pressure on yourself," he said.

"We’ve had a lot of chats about keeping things exactly the same, being okay with the extra nerves but trusting your gameplan, trusting your blueprint and trusting the players that you’ve been playing with and been around for 18 months, doing well with. It’s okay to feel extra tension, but it shouldn’t be affecting your performances. We’ve tried to emphasise that our blueprint is good enough to beat any side. Our gameplan is good enough to beat any side. It’s making sure we can execute that," he said.

McKenzie admitted the crunch moment has come sooner than South Africa would have liked, but said it is an opportunity to show what they have been working towards. "We were hoping [we would feel this] in a semi-final, but it has come one game early. All that we’ve put in place, and all our thinking and chats over the last 18 months has come a game early. It’s quite exciting for the management, and it’s all that we’ve been planning that we’ve got to be out there. Against India, a huge Indian crowd, you can’t get more pressure cooker than that, but we think we’re prepared."

Team India is confident of playing good cricket. Batting is no worry, while bowling is a cause for concern. Sources say that India’s premier offie Ravichander Ashwin might play in place of Jadhav. The bowling lacks variety and it would be a right option to have him on the side.