February 20, 2015 6:14:05 pm
With the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground set to see a large Indian crowd turning up to support their team on Sunday, current South Africa bowling coach Allan Donald on Friday conceded that for the defending champions the game at MCG would be akin to playing at home.(Full Coverage| Venues | Fixtures)
“It’s a home game for India. There’s going up to (almost) 100,000 people here and there is going to be a lot of Indian support, so keeping the crowd quiet is going to be a big thing,” Donald said two days ahead of the clash that may decide who tops Group B.
Donald said there was something unique about the venue and his players would relish the occasion.
“You just have to walk out there, (even when) these stands are empty it’s an intimidating place. It’s a massive game: South Africa v India, MCG … this is why we play for our country,” the 48-year-old South African was quoted as saying by Australian Associated Press.
South Africa are considered as one of the favourites to win the World Cup this time, but Donald said his side have not thought beyond Sunday’s match.
“If it (finals) bring us back here that’s great. It means we’ve played cricket out of our socks. We’re concentrating on Sunday. That really is all that matters,” said Donald who took 330 wickets from 72 Tests and 272 from 164 ODIs.
Donald could not win a World Cup in four appearances as a player but he said he has no regrets.
“To not be able to walk away with a medal is a bit of a sour one, but I’ve got no regrets,” said Donald, part of the Proteas’ famous mix-up between the wickets that ended their 1999 World Cup campaign in the semi-final against Australia.
“Hopefully this time around there’s something waiting, but we’re very patient about that process. It’s just an awesome time to be around this team. I’m very privileged … I love World Cups. They’re such amazing events,” said Donald, adding that fast bowler Dale Steyn will play against India on Sunday after a bout of sinusitis.
Jonty predicts South African win against India
India might have begun their World Cup campaign with a morale-boosting win over Pakistan but former Protea batsman Jonty Rhodes feels that South Africa are a better all-round side and tipped them to win their high-profile clash against the defending champions in Melbourne on Sunday.
Jonty said despite a strong performance by India in their comprehensive win over arch-rivals Pakistan, South Africa’s strong batting, lethal bowling attack and all-round fielding capabilities would give the Proteas the edge.
“Much as I see India putting up an improved performance over the past few months in Australia, fresh from their rejuvenating win against Pakistan, I foresee a South African win with their strong batting, lethal bowling and an all-round fielding side led by mercurial AB de Villiers,” Jonty, who has turned World Cup analyst for Yahoo Cricket, told PTI in an interview.
Talking highly of the South African pace attack comprising Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell and Vernon Philander, Jonty said that India will have quite a task against such a potent bowling on Sunday.
“South African pace attack is similar to that of Australia, and more potent than Pakistan. Having seen the pace, bounce and swing during Australia’s defeat of England a few days ago, I believe that SA pacers will be able to put the Indian batting line-up under pressure, and utilise the new ball with a couple of early wickets. India’S task is really cut out,” 45-year-old Jonty, who rose to prominence with a flying run-out of Inzamam ul Haq in a 1992 World Cup league match against Pakistan, said.
India have had a mediocre Australian summer in their 0-2 Test defeat against the hosts and their inability to win a single ODI in the subsequent tri-series. Jonty believes that Proteas will try to exploit the patchy Indian batting.
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