Aiden Markram found his touch in the Test series against Pakistan with two top innings of 78 and 90. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN – It is clear that the Proteas are entering into the final stretch before the 2019 Cricket World Cup, after Aiden Markram and Duanne Olivier were called up to the ODI squad for the first two games against Pakistan.

Cricket South Africa made the announcement on Wednesday ahead of Saturday’s opener at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth (1pm start).

Markram in particular was a bit of a surprise omission from the original group named for the PE and Durban matches (Tuesday, 1pm).

But it was Rassie van der Dussen’s sheer weight of runs in the Mzansi Super League for eventual champions Jozi Stars that forced the hands of selection convener Linda Zondi and company.

Van der Dussen topped the run-scorers’ list with 469 at an average of 58.62, including four half-centuries in 11 innings.

Another rival to Markram in the Proteas top-order, Reeza Hendricks, also had a stellar Mzansi campaign for the Stars, gathering 412 runs in nine visits to the crease (58.85), with two hundreds and two fifties.

But Markram seemed to find his touch again over the last few weeks in the Test arena, with a sparkling 78 at Newlands that was followed by a superb 90 at the Wanderers.

Of course, Olivier can’t stop taking wickets, having grabbed 24 against Pakistan to win the Man of the Series award. So his call-up gives Zondi and coach Ottis Gibson a chance to have one final look at another fast-bowling option for the World Cup squad.

While Cricket SA didn’t mention any injuries, both De Kock and Steyn have played key roles in the 3-0 Test series whitewash, so they can now put up their feet for a few more days before probably returning for the last three ODIs.

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Proteas Squad (for first two ODIs)

Faf du Plessis (captain), Hashim Amla, Duanne Olivier, Reeza Hendricks, Imran Tahir, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Dane Paterson, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen.

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