THE K FACTOR WINS IT FOR SA |
By Trevor Chesterfield at Northampton - 19 May 1999
When plans A, B and C fail, why not consider the K factor with a dash of the E option thrown in. South Africa did today in their World Cup match against title-holders Sri Lanka? It was just as well the all-round skills of Lance Klusener, Jacques Kallis and Steve Elworthy were there to give the now 7/2 favourites the lift they needed to go to The Oval on Saturday to face joint Group A leaders England.
No doubt the South African captain, Hansie Cronje, would have also quite been happy to accept the victory margin of 89 runs after scoring 199 for nine on a misty morning when the ball swung and seamed and undid all the hard work in the nets since the side arrived here last Sunday. And what a victory it was, too.
Cronje, when South Africa were 122 for eight in the 35th over, must have experienced the sort of tremors which create a nervous twitch. Like his players, however, there was calm in the dressing room and coolness on the field. And Klusener, who sparked South Africa's equally impressive, but far tighter win over India in Hove, won the man of the match award with the sort of innings which only he, of all the South African all rounders, seems to be able to play in this World Cup. The KwaZulu/Natal all-rounder gave a new meaning to the term slog as he took 22 runs off Chaminda Vaas' last over to reach 52 off 45 balls. Two fours, two sixes and a well galloped two with Allan Donald was rampant stuff - particularly when set against the backdrop of Arjuna Ranatunga's decision earlier in the day to invite the South Africans to bat.
Then it was Kallis' turn and this time with the ball. Bowling from the Members' Stand End of the Wantage Road ground he extracted bounce, swing and seam - reducing Sri Lanka to 14 for four with the last ball of the sixth over. Just the sort of start South Africa needed in defending the 199. On a day tinged with controversy (the sun shone for a change, the temperatures actually nudged 17 degrees Celsius and you could almost feel the warmth), it was Kallis who helped Romesh Kaluwitharana, Sanath Jayasuriya and then Marvan Atapattu on their way. The ball which ripped through Jayasuriya's flimsy defences made the batting prince of the last World Cup look decidedly amateurish.
Sure there was some poor shot selection on both sides, but the difference was that, while South Africa batted through their 50 overs, the reigning champions were routed for a paltry 110 in 36.1 overs. It was the sort of humiliation which leaves Sri Lanka with a lot of hard work to do if they hope to remain in with a chance of qualifying for the Super Sixes later this month.
Klusener then shrugged his broad shoulders and chipped in with three wickets for 31 with the sort of enigmatic grin he sometimes wears: happy, cheerful yet serious. For Pollock his return of two for 14 in nine overs cannot be dismissed lightly either.
For Elworthy, however, walking out with the scoreboard reading 122 for eight is not the sort of experience you want to relate to your family when the tournament has become a fading memory some years down the road. A partnership of 44 with Klusener was just the sort of batting spine South Africa needed to exhibit at such a crucial time in this year's World Cup campaign. Klusener, a man of few words when facing a crowd with a microphone under his nose, agreed that Donald was the sort of ``cool guy you can trust'' at the other end. As for his own efforts . well, you can almost hear his response of 'Aw . . . shucks'.