Under-pressure South Africa

Published: Friday, February 21, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Bloemfontein: World Cup host South Africa and its veteran fast bowler Allan Donald launch their battle of survival when they meet Bangladesh on Saturday. Shaun Pollock's men, given a lifeline after the West Indies-Bangladesh match was rained off, cannot afford to slip any further after losing two of their three games so far. "The side we pick for Saturday might surprise the public and the media," said South Africa's chief selector Omar Henry.

"What has made the situation more difficult is that a key player like Allan Donald is out of form. It's a reality we have to face and we have spoken to Allan about it. "Bloemfontein is Allan's home town and this may well be his last game for South Africa here but we must do what is best for the team." Henry's comments means all-rounder Andrew Hall was expected to replace Donald. Donald, 36, has been under fire for his performances in the World Cup after conceding 54 runs in nine overs against the West Indies and 52 against New Zealand from 5.5 overs with just one wicket to his name. His army of critics, including former players, have questioned his place.

"When you hear comments from former players it is frustrating," Donald, playing his fourth and last World Cup, told the SAPA news agency after nets. "If I get the opportunity to play on my home ground it will be great but that's totally up to the selectors and the team management. "The saddest thing for me is that I haven't made a contribution to the biggest cricket tournament in the world. "If I can get 20 overs under my belt and grab some wickets, I really think that I can bring something to this tournament," said Donald.

Bangladesh and Canada should be easily taken care of, but South Africa has to defeat Sri Lanka in Durban on March 3 to stay in contention for the Super Six. Bangladesh, who lost to Canada and Sri Lanka before taking two points from the rained off match against the West Indies, see the pressure on South Africa as a bonus. "We have no pressure, it's the South Africans who are in trouble to qualify for the next stage," said Bangladesh captain Khaled Mashud. "We will give 100 per cent and try to benefit from the pressure on our rivals." Copyright AFP 2001

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