World Cup 2015: South Africa March 16, 2015

Domingo confident of strong show in big matches

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For a full four minutes of his pre-quarter-final press conference, Russell Domingo could breathe easy. And then it came. 

"Coach, I hate to be the one that brings this up..." began one reporter. 

"Ah yes, choking, choking," Domingo said, with all the guffaws of someone whose trachea was quite clear. "It's taken more than four minutes... it's taken a long time to ask." 

On most days it seems that South Africa have embraced this word which has done the same to them, albeit more violently. They treat it the same way Pakistan and West Indies do with "unpredictable," knowing that it only sometimes actually applies to them and at others is used sweepingly, to include shortcomings that have nothing to do with snatching defeat from the jaws of victory but are about basic errors or simply being outplayed by an opposition. 

That's allowed to happen too and it did, at this World Cup, against India, who were just a superior opposition at the MCG. It happened a little less against Pakistan, when South Africa engineered their own collapse sparked by an attack who understood the significance of stepping up. Both those defeats have left South Africa exposed to hearing a lot of clearing of throats and seeing a lot of clutching at them and Domingo is prepared for the mock coughing fits. 

"I think South Africa find themselves in a tough situation in that if they win all their games before the knockouts people question them; if they don't win all their games before the knockouts, people question them," he said. "We know we've come with a clean slate. We've played some good cricket, we've played some patchy cricket but we come here knowing that if we play to our best ability on the day, we've got a good chance of winning." 

The best of South Africa's collective has not been on display thus far. Even when they totalled 400 twice and dismissed their opponents cheaply, to win by margins in excess of 200, one batsman and one bowler have come under scrutiny. Quinton de Kock has only got in double figures twice and looked nervy in his shot selection, footwork and running between the wickets which suggests a wane in confidence or, as one reporter put it being "mentally shot," while Dale Steyn has not built up his usual steam. 

Domingo dismissed both concerns. "I am not a sports psychologist but I don't know how a player can be perceived to be mentally shot. It's a little bit nasty. We just sort of have this gut feel that Quinton has got a big score around the corner," he said. "And Dale has bowled progressively better as the competition's gone on. His pace has been up. I've got a feeling there's a big performance from Dale just around the corner. It's a matter of time before he puts in a match-winning performance for us." 

Essentially, what Domingo hopes both those players produce is what South African fans have wanted from their team at every tournament they have been to: the ability to peak at the right time. "Our form leading to this game will probably be questioned, but we always said we want to play good cricket in the big matches at the right time. Wednesday is the start of the big games, so we want to make sure we play to our best potential," Domingo said. "We've spoken long and hard about playing the big games and the big moments. We've sort of..not eased our way in... but probably haven't played the consistent brand of cricket that we'd have wanted to and I am expecting that to happen on Wednesday."  

So what are South Africa planning to do differently to what they have done in knockouts matches in the past? "We're not telling you because you will tell the rest of the world. That's for us to keep to ourselves." And the rest of us will have to wait and see.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sharmin on March 17, 2015, 19:46 GMT

    The team which bats first will win. Unfortunately, that is the pattern mostly we have seen in this world cup except a few cases.

  • cricketgreats on March 17, 2015, 8:39 GMT

    this time I wish either sa or nz win not india or aus

  • Dan on March 17, 2015, 8:34 GMT

    seing some of the comments here it seems like a world war between fans than a CWC.it's understandable that u criticise or praise ur team.but truely it's not fair to disgrace players such as AB,sanga,steyn,Malinga or any as they deserve great respect from genuine cricket fans.some says it's mediocore attacks,while others say home track bullys.OK if that's the case all those people making such comments just go and score a hundred against mediocore attack.get at least 50 in home track.face the reality.non of u can achieve what these cricketers have achieved.all u know is just watch infront of TV and type few words that doesn't make any sense.every team has their own strength and weaknesses as well as good and bad days.not only in cricket.that's how life is.just enjoy the match.it's gentlemens game.

  • Muhammad Ali on March 17, 2015, 8:15 GMT

    @sachin_vvsfan: The wicket at Kolkata was a square turner and he bowled first. This raised a lot of questions. I watched an interview of Vinod Kambli saying that most of the team members were surprised when he put Sri Lanka to bat first. Maybe it was India's strength to chase targets which prompted him to bowl first. Many years down the line, I met Azharuddin in Karachi when he captained a veterans team including Manoj Prabharkar, Nayan Mongia and few other retired Indian cricketers. So I am not too sure whether he wanted to go to Pakistan or not. World Cup final is too big a game to choose to go to a country or loose the match only for that reason. As you have said, we should praise Srilanka as they were worthy champions of that edition of WC and they pioneered power hitting in the first 15 overs.

  • Pratishk on March 17, 2015, 7:51 GMT

    On the outset, both the teams have actually faired poorly against 'the team(s) to beat' in the tournament.For all their experience, individual and of past world cups SL have just about done the bare minimum.South Africa , unlike previous instances seem to be dependent too heavily on one player.Big grounds should definitely help SA more.If they make it count,that is.The team that chases ,would make for a very interesting match, if they go on to win. On current form it should not come as a surprise if SL loose.The surprise of course is SA winning a knock out game.

  • sri on March 17, 2015, 7:44 GMT

    @ SIDDIQIMALI SL deserved to win the 1996 WC although i don't fully agree with @AMOL_GH that India threw away the game I have every reason to believe that Azharuddin threw the game away. I watched the game and still remember how Azhar deliberately gave the catch to the bowler(not once but twice) The first time it didn't really carry to the bowler and i was thinking why was he playing like that and then he did that again as if he didn't want to play anymore. I am sure he was happy to not go to pakistan for the finals.

    That said SL could have still won the semifinal game had the Indians played their normal game (and SL in general did well in that tournament beating Aus in the finals.)

  • Immaculate on March 17, 2015, 7:28 GMT

    Have to admit am a bit nervous for my south african side. Sri lanka is one of the in form sides and winning against them would be a challenge, but possible.I hope the stats work for our side this time. Amla must fire for us at opening and we will be two games away from lifting the cup.

  • sidh on March 17, 2015, 6:28 GMT

    in cricket chasing any target under pressure in big matches is the most difficult thing to do.only mentally tough(&also specially skillfull) teams can do this.thats why australia and india are well ahead from all teams in that matters.may be indian team not best in the world but they have special skill & records of chasing any target in any tough situation.if you check stats india's win percentage while chasing the targets are very high than any other teams in last 4-5 years.(vs SL in WC final,vs Aus in WC QF,vs SL in CT SF)india play very well while chasing the targets.batsmans like kohali dhoni raina are master of chasing.virat kohali has most hundreds & runs in chasing the targets in pressuire situation than any other player in the world & mostly he finish his inning by winning the match for his team.thats why i rate kohali very high than ABD,Aamala,sanga,warner,root,Bmac.,gayle.

  • Muhammad Ali on March 17, 2015, 6:23 GMT

    @Amol_Gh: India threw the WC semis 1996. You are living in dream, brother. During that time, few teams (Australia, WI) didn't go to Sri Lanka to play because of unrest in the country. India co-hosted the WC with Pakistan and Sri Lanka and just before the WC, players from India and Pakistan played a friendly match in Sri Lanka to show solidarity among the three countries hosting the tournament. You are definitely required to correct your information.

  • Muhammad Ali on March 17, 2015, 6:18 GMT

    South Africa must go with five regular bowlers from now on. Teams are as strong as their weakest link. My SAF team will be: QDK, Amla, FAF, ABD, Rossou / Duminy, Miller, Philander, Abbot, Steyn, Morkel and Imran Tahir. If six batsmen cannot win, seven for sure cannot. By having five regular bowlers, SAF can maintain pressure through out Sri Lankan innings. Now its a matter of 3 good games for any side to lift the cup on 29th March 2015.

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