Proteas are focused on 'winning the big moments'
IF SOUTH Africa are to have a successful start to their Super Eights campaign here today, they need to do something they have never done at the World Twenty20 before - beat Pakistan.
Unpredictable at the best of times, this is one event the Pakistanis tend to turn up for. They have the most appearances in finals at the tournament, having won in 2009 and finished second in 2007. And one can sense it is an event that gets their juices flowing.
The Proteas have faced Pakistan twice in the World T20, losing in both 2009 and 2010. Outside of the tournament, South Africa have beaten Pakistan in all three of their other clashes.
But it is in crunch tournament matches where South Africa have come up short in the past. They have only made the semifinals stage of this tournament once, in 2009, where they lost to, you've guessed it, Pakistan.
To progress past the Super Eights, South Africa will have to win at least two of three Super Eight matches against Pakistan, Australia (Sunday) and India (Tuesday) - all of whom are also unbeaten at the tournament.
After impressive group stage victories over Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka, captain AB de Villiers knows the importance of continuing that momentum. He also realises South Africa have under-achieved against Pakistan.
"In the World T20 in England, the one we lost there was one of those poor games," said De Villiers.
"We bowled them out for around 145, I guess, and we just weren't up to it with the bat. I think [Shahid] Afridi bowled an unbelievable spell and got a few key wickets up front.
"But from there on we probably still should have won but never really pushed on. When the pressure moments presented themselves we weren't up for it."
South Africa's main emphasis with coach Gary Kirsten at the helm has been all about "winning the big moments".
"I just believe it's all about those pressure situations. We all know when they come around. It's one or two overs in a T20 game, and when they come you have just got to be up to it and be better than the opposition. That's what it's going to come down to again."
South Africa are likely to make one change for today's match bringing back leftarm spinner Robin Peterson for Faf du Plessis.
South Africa will be pleased that their gun-man Richard Levi got among the runs in the group victory over Sri Lanka and they'll be looking to him and Hashim Amla to get stuck into Pakistan seamer Umar Gul from the outset.
Although Gul is a threat, the Proteas' main focus will be on the spin of Afridi, Mohammad Hafeez and, the best of them all, Saeed Ajmal. If the Proteas are able to stifle that trio, the rest is likely to take care of itself.
South Africa's main weapon is the three-pronged seam attack of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Jacques Kallis.
South Africa's match today will be followed by an intriguing clash between India and Australia.
See Page 26 for results of last night's two Super Eights games