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ICC World Cup 2023: South Africa's Batting Resurgence Can Take Them All The Way

With two big wins in 2023 ICC World Cup, South Africa have emerged as dark horses of the tournament.

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World Cup
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South Africa has always been a competitive cricket side. The country has produced many greats of the game, yet they have never won a World Cup! That's something that still hurts the South African fans and they are longing for the day they can see their beloved team lifting the coveted trophy.

That day might not be far away, though. The Proteas' best chance of claiming the World title came when they made it to the semi-finals in 2015, but suffered a heartbreaking loss to New Zealand in a closely contested battle. 2019 turned out to be a disappointing outing for them as they made an exit in the group stage. However, 2023 seems to be a new dawn for the team as they have looked like one of the best sides of this tournament, in the matches they have played so far.

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Aiden Markram and co. shattered records when they posted a massive total of 428-5 against Sri Lanka, including centuries from three batters, and won that match by a massive margin of 102 runs. And they made a statement again when they posted 311-7 against a strong Australian bowling attack, and registered yet another massive victory by 134 runs.

With two big wins in 2023 ICC World Cup, South Africa have emerged as dark horses of the tournament.

Quinton de Kock scored 109 as South Africa beat Australia by 134 runs in the 2023 ICC ODI World Cup

(Photo: PTI)

Batting Unit in Form and Firing

The major reason behind both of their wins was their batting resurgence — a template full of intent, aggression and situational awareness. A template that can give England, the defending World Champions, a run for their money!

The Proteas' have come into this tournament with one of the best and most experienced batting units. Most of their batters are in form and firing, and statistics are there to show how good they have been.

In 2023, the South African batting lineup is averaging 41.66, the highest among all ODI playing nations. And they have been scoring these runs at an outstanding strike-rate of 108.91, again the highest among all teams.

The only team that comes close to their scoring rate is England, but even their strike-rate of 102.22 is a lot lower than that of the Proteas. So, the South African batters aren't only scoring runs at a fast rate but their average suggests that they have been doing so without getting dismissed much.

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Quinton de Kock, one of their most experienced batters, has started this tournament with back-to-back centuries. Aiden Markram scored the fastest century in World Cup history against Sri Lanka and followed that up with yet another superb 44-ball knock of 56 against Australia. Rassie van der Dussen, who averages 57.37 in ODIs — the second highest among batters with a minimum of 2000 ODI runs to their name — also started this World Cup campaign with a century against Sri Lanka.

Their lower middle-order also consists of players like Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller, who have been in the form of their lives of late.

Klaasen has an ODI strike-rate of 148.86 to his name this year, the highest among players with a minimum of 400 runs to their names. He has done that at an average of 53.45, which again sums up how good he has been in his middle-order role. Miller, the experienced veteran, has done an equally good job as he is averaging 54.44 in ODIs this year along with a strike-rate of 124.68.

They are yet to fire in this tournament as the top-order has done all the heavy lifting so far. But whenever they get a chance to do their job, their form preceding this World Cup shows that they can easily set the stage on fire!

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With two big wins in 2023 ICC World Cup, South Africa have emerged as dark horses of the tournament.

New Delhi: South Africa's bowler Kagiso Rabada celebrates with teammates after the wicket of Sri Lanka's batter Kusal Mendis during the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup match between Sri Lanka and South Africa, at the Arun Jaitley Stadium, in New Delhi, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023.

(Photo: PTI)

Bowlers Coming to the Party Slowly

Now that we have taken a look at how good their batters have been, we should take a look at how their bowlers have been doing. Heading into this World Cup, their bowling had emerged as a cause of concern.

They have been the most expensive side in ODIs this year, conceding runs at an economy rate of 6.05. At the same time, they have been one of the best wicket-taking sides, claiming a wicket every 29.3 deliveries — the second best among all teams this year.

Now their economy might seem like a cause of concern, but they are backing that up with their ability of picking up wickets frequently. Many of the Proteas bowlers were quite expensive against Sri Lanka. Marco Jansen went for 92 runs in his 10 overs, but they kept picking up wickets that was enough to defend their massive total.

South Africa came up with a much improved bowling performance against Australia, though. They bowled Australia out for 177 while defending 311. Jansen was again expensive, going at over seven runs per over. But the other bowlers did an excellent job, with all of them registering an economy of below five runs per over.

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So, they are improving on the economy part as well and if they can do that consistently throughout the tournament, coupled with their batting heroics, they can definitely go all the way!

But it's really their batting that's carrying them in the tournament right now. With so much experience and form in their favour, the Proteas batters will look to outbat teams in the coming matches consistently.

Their exploits should easily help them in getting the better of strong teams in the upcoming matches, and the bowlers just need to keep supporting them like they are doing right now.

Looking at their combined performances so far, the team has a good chance of making it to the semi-finals. Once they reach that stage, they shouldn't aim for anything less than the Silverware!

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