Will Janneman Malan be the unlucky one to miss out on the T20 World Cup?
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CAPE TOWN - The Proteas are set to name their 15-man squad for the ICC T20 World Cup that will be staged in the UAE and Oman in October-November on Thursday at Cricket SA’s season launch.
With national convenor Victor Mpitsang and the remainder of the selection panel, which includes coach Mark Boucher and Patrick Moroney, clearly not interested in T20 freelancers like former captain Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, Chris Morris and Wayne Parnell, the squad heading to the desert will be similar to the current group in Sri Lanka.
There are a couple of close calls to be made though, particularly at the top of the order with Boland opener Janneman Malan pressing hard for a place due to his scintillating longer 50-overs format form.
There’s also still some consternation among the all-rounders too with Andile Phehlukwayo’s form leaving a lot to be desired of late, while Bjorn Fortuin could also lose out in the spinning department to the impressive Keshav Maharaj.
MY LIKELY PROTEAS 15-MAN SQUAD
Quinton de Kock, Temba Bavuma, Reeza Hendricks
De Kock is the first-choice white-ball opener across formats, while Bavuma is the captain so that sorts out the opening pair. The skipper should have recovered from the hand injury that ruled him out of the current Sri Lankan series by the time the Proteas face Australia in their tournament opener in Abu Dhabi next month. Reeza Hendricks has been the back-up opener in the squad, and struck a half-century in the last T20I played, but faces a shoot-out with the in-form Janneman Malan.
Aiden Markram, David Miller, Rassie van der Dussen, Heinrich Klaasen
The Proteas are uncertain where they want Markram to bat in their T20 line-up, but they are positive that he has to be in their starting line-up, especially as he also offers a bowling option on the slow UAE surfaces. With De Kock and Bavuma pencilled in upfront, it is most likely that Markram will come in at No 3 – or even No 4. Van der Dussen’s T20I record makes him virtually an automatic selection in the starting line-up, but there is growing concern regarding his strike-rate, particularly at the start of the innings. South Africa have shown a willingness of late to get Miller up the order, although he remains the team’s best finisher. Klaasen will likely go as the back-up wicket-keeper ahead of Kyle Verreynne.
Dwaine Pretorius, George Linde, Wiaan Mulder
South Africa have missed Pretorius’ all-round skills, especially with Andile Phehlukwayo’s form fluctuating over the last period. But Pretorius is now back after an injury and Covid-19 layoff and will add much-needed hitting power to the lower order. A potential new-ball option also if the Proteas include Linde as part of a three-form spin attack in the line-up. Mulder may get the nod over Phehlukwayo on the basis of his superior batting form recently.
Tabraiz Shamsi, Keshav Maharaj
The new-found strength of South African cricket with Shamsi being the spearhead of the spin attack at the No 1 ranked T20 bowler in the world. He should be joined by fellow left-armer Maharaj, who according to coach Mark Boucher is “bowling the best he has in his career”. Maharaj’s supreme tactical nous will also be beneficial in assisting captain Bavuma in the heat of battle, which could see regular back-up spinner Bjorn Fortuin being left behind.
Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi
The trio of Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi are certainties, with the only possible hiccup being the latter’s fitness. They all have experience of playing in the UAE for their respective IPL franchises and will get an opportunity to acclimate to the conditions when the tournament restarts a couple of weeks before the T20 World Cup. Sisanda Magala would have been a serious option, but the burly fast bowler just hasn’t been able to get on the park over the last few months.