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Proteas skipper needs to flex his muscle in T20 World Cup Super Eight stage

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Chief among the under-performing SA batsmen is skipper Aiden Markram. With a best score of 15 and a run tally of 31, which included a duck against the Netherlands.

SA captain Aiden Markram fields during the ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup. Picture: ROBERT CIANFLONE, GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA, Getty Images via AFP

THOUGH South Africa qualified for the Super Eight stage of the T20 World Cup with a perfect record of four victories from as many matches, their performances have been far from unblemished

Tasked with taking on tournament co-hosts USA on Wednesday at North Sound cricket stadium Antigua and Barbuda, the Proteas will be looking for a better batting performance from a couple of their star players.

Chief among the under-performing batsmen is skipper Aiden Markram. With a best score of 15 and a run tally of 31, which included a duck against the Netherlands, there is no player in the South African line-up in more desperate need of runs.

Added to the fact that Markram is the captain, he is expected to lead by example and he will have to admit he has not done that with the willow in this tournament.

Quinton de Kock is another who needs to make a contribution. Unlike Markram, De Kock has made decent starts in three of the four games he’s played with scores of 10, 18, 0 and 20.

Time running out

De Kock also had a poor Indian Premier League which concluded last month. His average of 22 is his worst since the 2014 IPL and the 250 runs he scored is also his lowest tally from eight matches or more in a season since 2018.

Therefore, time is running out for De Kock to find some form at the business end of the tournament.

Reeza Hendricks, meanwhile, might just have found some form after scoring a crucial 43 in South Africa’s final group game against Nepal, which the Proteas won by just a single run. Hendricks’ knock was timely, after he opened the tournament with scores of 4, 3 and a duck.

On favourable pitches, the bowlers have been economical with Anrich Nortje in particular looking to have found form again. The fiery quick has raced to nine wickets, with best figures of 4/7 in SA’s first game against Sri Lanka.

Markram praised the efforts of his bowlers in the competition so far.

“Our fast bowling unit has been bowling really well in this competition. You want to back them and give them the freedom to win you games on any wicket,” said Markram.

With spin set to play a big role on the slow pitches, South Africa could also field two spinners with Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi in their squad.

Markram also said he’d have no problem playing the ‘spin twins’.

“If conditions are going to be like that [against Nepal], then we’d like to pick the both of them. If wickets are going to be like that, we will back the both of them to be in our XI and to make a massive impact for us.

“Shamsi was excellent [against Nepal]. It’s fantastic to have him back in the team and give him an opportunity for some time in the middle and to bowl the way he did.

“From a bowling point of view, we don’t have too many concerns. A lot of learning can take place in our other two facets [batting and fielding].”

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