Proteas rookies need to find their feet quickly says skipper Markram
India and South Africa head into Sunday’s opening T20 International at Kingsmead shorn of their big stars and seeking answers about personnel for next year’s World Cup that will be jointly hosted in the Caribbean and US.
The Proteas are without Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi, who was forced to withdraw from the series on Friday night with an ankle injury. He will be assessed for the Test series over the coming weeks and in the meantime his place in the T20 squad has gone to veteran left-arm seamer Beuran Hendricks.
India too will tackle the three-match T20 series with Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah absent from their squad.
Already their planning for the World Cup has begun with a 4-1 series win against Australia. Led by Suryakumar Yadav, what they lack in international experience, they more than make up for with know-how from the Indian Premier League, the sport’s wealthiest T20 competition.
The Proteas T20 captain admitted it would be tricky for some of his young charges to stake a World Cup claim given, the limited opportunities provided by the schedule. “It’s not ideal,” Markram said about the Proteas calendar ahead of the World Cup that sees them playing only in this series and then another set of three T20s against the West Indies before that tournament.
It means he and head coach Rob Walter need to use data from T20 leagues to aid with their selection.
“Building up to the World Cup there is a lot of cricket, but not a lot for us together as a team. It’s not necessarily a challenge, so long as the guys understand the way we want to play as a team and keep that close to them when playing in different leagues and tournaments,” said Markram. “Hopefully by the time we meet up for the World Cup, the guys are used to that brand and the way we want to operate as a team.”
His Indian counterpart, Yadav, agreed. “We play 14 games in the Indian Premier League. The boys have a lot of experience under their belt, they know their roles really well and how to adapt to different situations,” he said.
Given that experience, India probably start the series as marginal favourites.
South Africa’s bowling is one area, where the lack of experience is felt most acutely. Markram couldn’t help but smile as he pointed out how Marco Jansen and Gerald Coetzee — “who are quite young” — would lead the attack.
Nandre Burger and Ottniel Baartman are the new faces in the attack, while Matthew Breetzke and Donovan Ferreira, are the batting rookies looking to add to the one cap they earned against Australia in September.
“The nature of cricket nowadays is that series come thick and fast, there’ll be stages where new guys come in — like this series — and they will have to find their feet quickly,” said Markram.
The weather forecast for Durban on Sunday afternoon, is unpleasant with rain predicted throughout. The match is scheduled to start at 4pm.
SA: Aiden Markram (capt), Ottniel Baartman, Matthew Breetzke, Nandre Burger, Gerald Coetzee, Donovan Ferreira, Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, David Miller, Beuran Hendricks, Andile Phehlukwayo, Tabraiz Shamsi, Tristan Stubbs, Lizaad Williams.
India: Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Tilak Varma, Suryakumar Yadav (capt)), Rinku Singh, Shreyas Iyer, Ishan Kishan, Jitesh Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar, Ravi Bishnoi, Kuldeep Yadav, Arshdeep Singh, Mohammad Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, Deepak Chahar.
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