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South Africa points finger at Pollock's flops
February 17, 2003 12:52 IST
The recriminations were already under way in South Africa on Monday as Shaun Pollock's team faced up to the prospect of early elimination from the cricket World Cup.
The team's hopes, according to The Citizen newspaper, are "hanging by a thread" following Sunday's nine-wicket defeat by New Zealand at the Wanderers.
"The hosts' performance was a far cry from what is expected from a team tipped as one of the tournament's favourites," it added.
South Africa have now lost two of their three Group B games. Crucially, those two defeats came against close rivals West Indies and the New Zealanders, whose victory was clinched by captain Stephen Fleming's fine 134 not out.
To qualify, the home side now have to beat group leaders Sri Lanka -- they have eight points and two wins out of two -- and hope West Indies do the same. Rain ruining their opponents' matches is the only other hope.
In effect, Pollock's men could be on their way out of the tournament as early as February 28, more than three weeks before the final, if Sri Lanka see off the West Indies in Cape Town.
That would reduce South Africa's game against the Sri Lankans on March 3 in Durban to little more than a wake.
"Polly's men staring down the barrel," was how Business Day referred to Pollock's side on its front page.
It pointed the finger at "a staggering display of short-pitched and misdirected bowling" by the hosts' bowlers, adding: "It all went horribly pear-shaped."
Pollock himself, while outwardly defiant, conceded after Sunday's defeat: "Things are now out of our control. We'll be watching a couple of games pretty keenly.
"We haven't produced the cricket at the right times and we're just hoping for a lifeline.
"If we do manage to squeak through by the skin of our teeth we believe we can turn it around.
"I don't think we've been playing anywhere near our best cricket."
A television show run by a private South African broadcaster on Monday was inundated by complaints about selection and the performance of South Africa's bowlers, with veteran Allan Donald, in particular, coming in for criticism.
Few were looking for excuses, even though New Zealand, already in a winning position, had their task made easier by a rain delay and a revised target.
One fan, however, quoted on The Star's front sports page, did take the easy option. "The rules are crap," he said.
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