South Africa will be desperate to shake off the 'chokers' tag at this tournament. It has a largely settled and balanced core of players that has been spruced up with the addition of a few new faces. This could be the time to shed the reputation of 'best country to have never won a World Cup'.Drawn in Group B along with India, England, Bangladesh, West Indies, Ireland and Netherlands, South Africa has a real opportunity to build momentum through the group stage in time for the knock out games. The side also has the recent knowledge of beating India in this format to take to heart. The side will cruise through the group and into the quarters – the stage where the pressure ramps up.
In the past South Africa has fallen short of the mark, often inexplicably. This time around only four of the 15 man squad has previous World Cup experience, so the new kids on the block don't have too much in the way of recent anguish at major tournaments on their minds. We may well discover here, how inherent failing under pressure is in South African cricket.
With the weapons at its disposal, South Africa should be looking to at least reach the final. With players such as Graeme Smith, AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla in its ranks, there is enough muscle to compete with anyone, even if there is a lack of lunatic batting down the order without Albie Morkel. The spotlight here will fall upon Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy and Pakistan-born leg-spinner Imran Tahir. With strength elsewhere, we fancy South Africa to reach the final.
Key Man – AB de Villiers. Without long term wicket keeper Mark Boucher in the squad, de Villiers is, at the moment, the most likely candidate to don the gloves. He is also a superb batsman and hit South Africa's highest ever score in Test cricket last year. A reliable and solid performer, if he hits his straps here, he will inspire those around him.
Strength – There is plenty of spin bowling in this side. Tahir, Duminy, Robin Peterson, Johan Botha and du Plessis can all give the ball a tweak. These options will supplement the explosive pace of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. This will not be an easy side to score runs against.
Weakness – Is the 'choker' tag here to hang around South Africa's neck forever? There are a lot of new faces in the set-up and de Villiers has already highlighted the potential pitfalls of keeping wicket to Tahir, an unknown quantity to most of his team-mates. Will they have a deadly finisher down the order without Albie Morkel to bump up the run rate or see the side home?
Betting – 11/2. This South African side is good value at these odds. They have a solid core of players and appear well equipped for the unique challenges posed by the sub-continent. In previous major tournaments there has always been a lot of expectation around the side and it has always been one of the favourites. This lessening in expectation could offer the squad a little bit more room to breathe. These are very tempting odds.