By Amindha de Alwis
Temba Bavuma’s South Africa will have a point to prove as they kickstart their T20 World Cup campaign on October 23 versus Australia. With only two teams per group advancing to the knock-out phase of the tournament, South Africa will need to be on the ball right from the start as they face another challenging game against the West Indies three days later.
The Proteas have stuck with their decision to phase out Faf du Plessis and Imran Tahir from their limited-overs squads but the sight of du Plessis in particular playing a starring role in taking Chennai Super Kings to the Indian Premier League title a mere week back would have done nothing to reverse the many eyebrows raised at his omission.
South Africa’s trump-card over the last 12 months has been left-arm wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi who has claimed 28 wickets in 17 matches this year at an average of just 12.86. His performances have seen him shoot up to the top of the ICC’s T20I Bowling Rankings and he along with fellow left-armers Keshav Maharaj and Bjorn Fortuin form a potent spin attack.
Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada will lead the fast-bowlers and South Africa would likely have to choose between one of Dwaine Pretorius and Wiann Mulder as their seam-bowling all-rounder.
Batting-wise South Africa will have skipper Bavuma opening the batting alongside the explosive Quinton De Kock while Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen and David Miller will need to be at their best if they are to make it out of Group 1 in the Super 12s.
With no quarter-final stage and teams going directly into the semi-finals, South Africa will be up against the wall in a group that includes Australia, England, the West Indies and two qualifiers.
Main photo: Tabraiz Shamsi has been a key in South Africa's bowling attack this year