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South African Phehlukwayo learning all the time in eye-opening first World Cup

South Africa's Andile Phehlukwayo

South Africa’s Andile Phehlukwayo admits the biggest challenge of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup is the speed at which strategies need to change to take on different opposition.

  • South Africa picked up their second win of the tournament against Sri Lanka in Durham
  • The Proteas face Australia in their final game at Old Trafford as they look to finish on a high

Each of the 10 teams at this edition of the tournament plays the other nine once in the league phase over the course of five weeks, with the top four progressing to the semi-final stage.

And the quick turnaround between games has schooled all-rounder Phehlukwayo, who has featured in every game for the Proteas in this World Cup, in how to plan at the highest level.

“You’ve got to change your game plans and you’ve got to train differently because the opposition is not the same,” said Phehlukwayo after South Africa’s win over Sri Lanka in Durham.

“It’s been my first World Cup and it was really tough but we’ve got to adjust. Because it’s international cricket, you’ve got to be able to adjust and execute.”

Though this is Phehlukwayo’s first senior World Cup, he was part of the South African U19 squad that won the age-group World Cup in 2014 and has experienced the pressure of competing for a title before.

The step up to the biggest stage has shown Phehlukwayo that the margin for error is even smaller and he acknowledged that South Africa slipped into that zone too often.

“We’ve just been short at times. We’re are not far off. It’s just in patches that we’ve lost the game and that’s something in international cricket you can’t do or you don’t win games,” he said.

“You need to win those patches in important games and if you don’t it becomes really tough and you are chasing the game all the time. And you don’t want to be chasing the game.

“You want to be either on par or ahead of the game. That’s something we haven’t been very consistent in at this tournament. Hopefully, that’s something we will take with us and learn from.”

Because South Africa have fallen short in five out of the eight matches they’ve played, they were out of contention for the semi-finals before the Sri Lanka match. Instead, they went into it determined to prove their worth and achieved that with a nine-wicket victory.

“We needed to win after a few sad performances. We owed it to the country and we owed it to ourselves. We’ve been working really hard and it just hasn't been going our way,” Phehlukwayo said.

“A performance like that was long overdue to show that we are not just giving lip service to the things we are saying and we can do it.”

Before the match, South Africa spoke about needing three players to make big plays in their penultimate fixture and that's exactly what happened.

Dwaine Pretorius’ 3/25, Hashim Amla’s unbeaten 80 and Faf du Plessis’ 96 not out earned them a big win. Phehlukwayo was most pleased to see Pretorius, one of his direct competitors in the all-rounder role, make a statement.

“I’m really happy for Dwaine. The work he has been putting in off the field is unbelievable. He hits the most balls and he leaves training last. To see such a performance from him shows the hard work that he’s been putting in,” Phehlukwayo said.

“There’s a reason why we push each other so hard. It’s wonderful for him to come out here and show the country and the world what we can do.”

 Phehlukwayo, Pretorius and the rest of the South African squad will have one more opportunity to show their skills on this stage when they play Australia in their final match in Manchester.

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