Proteas bowling ‘flawed’
LIVERPOOL — After sealing Liverpool’s passage into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, attacking midfielder Adam Lallana ( pictured) admits that Liverpool have a big opportunity to win this year’s competition.
Lallana insists that his side are not concerned about the big names left in the draw ahead of the Monday’s quarter-final fixture announcement.
“Regardless of who is in it, we feel we have got a good chance,” Lallana told bein SPORTS.
“We’ll just prepare for whoever is in our way in the next round and go into the game looking to get the win.
“We knew we were going to have to be patient. We came here a few months ago and were in a completely different place to where we are now.
“We were still confident at half-time. We created a lot of chances in the first half, we just weren’t ruthless enough. Mario came on for an extra presence up front.
“We got two reasonably early goals in the second half and dug in well at the end. We thoroughly deserve our place in the next round. It’s a very difficult place, credit to the fans - the ground was bouncing before the game and especially when they got their goal. We did well to nullify them to very few chances. We’re delighted we’re in the next round.”
Four days after notching a crucial winner past Tottenham Hotspur, Mario Balotelli made a game-changing contribution once more.
“He hits it with a technique which is difficult for the ‘keeper to collect,” said the goalscorer.
“I gambled that he was going to parry it and just put it in. So I was delighted.” — Reuters CAPE TOWN — If danger signs can flicker against a relative minnow, then perhaps South Africa would be wise to address their shortcomings for the looming encounter with a co-superpower.
The risky lack of depth to their bowling resources was highlighted once again as they made heavy weather of subduing gutsy neighbours Zimbabwe in a World Cup Pool B opener for both sides at Hamilton on Sunday.
Senior player Dale Steyn sportingly tweeted (@Dalesteyn62) afterwards: “Well played by our African neighbours ... tough buggers!”
In the end the Proteas prevailed by 62 runs, but there were anxious moments along the way for them, first at the crease and then in the field.
It may be no bad thing: they have sometimes in the past been guilty of steaming along like a Japanese bullet train in early group play at World Cups, only to subside when it is most inopportune toward the business end.
At least they will be well aware there are areas to brush up on significantly for next Sunday’s meeting with the more heavyweight India at Melbourne Cricket Ground (05:30 SA time).
The batting wobble is arguably of much less concern: it is extremely rare these days for the “big two”, AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla, to compile only 36 runs between them in a one-day international, and the very fact that the Proteas could recover from the collective top-order peril of 83 for four to total 339 without further loss is a sign of growing maturity and composure in that department.
Those qualities were evident in abundance from respective centurions David Miller and JP Duminy, who have got their personal tournaments off with a deafening bang.
Their unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 256 in only 29.4 overs becomes the third highest for any Seddon Park and should prefer a much pacier track – hopefully – at the MCG.
But if Behardien is going to leak 40 runs in five overs against a side as moderate as Zimbabwe in slower, gripping conditions, it doesn’t seem to bode well for how the Indian strokeplayers may target him across the Tasman in Australia.
There are already the anticipated signs that this will be another difficult tournament for the most accomplished and well-rounded of bowling line-ups, never mind ones featuring essentially parttime and thus more vulnerable elements like Behardien.
Concerns about the potential weakening on paper of the Proteas’ tail, if they were to sacrifice him for Wayne Parnell or Kyle Abbott, are understandable.
But perhaps Vernon Philander’s ability to be at least resilient at the crease are underestimated by management and if, say, he and Parnell were the seven and eight it wouldn’t be the worst situation in the world.
Besides, if anything South Africa’s trumpeted frontline batsmen are likely only to be better collectively next time out after the early woes experienced against the Zimbabweans, and they may get away with fielding a fluffy tail against an Indian attack which is that team’s weaker suit than its own batting.
India saw off fierce rivals Pakistan more convincingly on paper on Sunday than the Proteas subdued Zimbabwe; there can be no room for any weak links in De Villiers’s side next weekend.
“Back to the drawing board” is probably too dramatic a statement, but there are a few holes in the SA fence yet to close up ... Upcoming fixtures 20 Feb: New Zealand v England 21 Feb: Pakistan v West Indies, Australia v Bangladesh. 22 Feb: Afghanistan v Sri Lanka, India v South Africa. — Sport24
David Miller (left) and JP Duminy rescued the Proteas against Zimbabwe on Sunday.