The South Africa Men’s cricket team have gotten all the reasons to rejoice as their skipper Temba Bavuma and Tabraiz Shamsi, with their injury woes settled, will be available for the opening game of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021. The team will play their opening game, which is also the opening game o the Super 12 of the T20 World Cup 2021, against the powerhouse, Australia, on Saturday (October 23) in Abu Dhabi.
Bavuma, who recovered from a thumb fracture he sustained during the white-ball series against Sri Lanka, is taking it slow as is evident from his knocks in the warm-up matches against Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Proteas skipper scored 31 off 39 balls and 46 off 42 balls, respectively, in the two matches totalling 77 runs at a strike rate of 95.06. It was his first match in over 50 days.
On the other hand, Shamsi, the spearhead bowler of the Proteas, was troubled with a groin problem as he exited the field limping after bowling four deliveries against Pakistan in Wednesday’s game. However, having cleared the fitness test ahead of Saturday’s clash, Shamsi has been cleared for playing.
The game is crucial for both Shamsi and the South Africa team, which is planning to make it big in the game this time around, capitalizing on the bowler’s exploits. As for the top-ranked T20I bowler, he will be playing his maiden T20 World Cup game. Additionally, he is also short of just one wicket from completing his tally of 50 T20I career wickets and four from the most T20I wickets in a calendar year. He will try to put in his best efforts to make it the most memorable T20 game of his career.
Bavuma confirmed the news of their return himself on the eve of the T20 World Cup opener that he and left-arm wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi will be available for Saturday’s opening match. “On my side, the fitness is good. I obviously managed to get through the two games unscathed. The hand held up nicely, so I’m all good to go. Shamsi as well, I understand that he’s also good to go. He did pass his fitness test today. So he’s good. I’m good as well,” said the 31-year-old in the pre-match press conference on Friday.
Speaking of their forms, Australia is coming at the back of a disappointing T20 stint, having lost their warm-up game against India. Prior to that, they entered the tournament with the baggage of two series defeats against Bangladesh and the West Indies. The team is yet to put an end to their jinx of bagging a T20 championship title. On the other hand, the Proteas, who have also not etched their name on the T20 championship silverware, is blazing with confidence, having won their warm-up matches, before which they also triumphed in the bilateral series against Ireland, Sri Lanka, and West Indies.
As for their head to head record, South Africa have lost eight of the 21 T20Is they played against Australia. Their most recent defeat came in a home series in February last year when the Aussies sealed the series by 2-1.
Temba Bavuma will be playing his first T20I game against the Kangaroos. Taking about his batting position in view of his freshly recuperated thumb and a slow form as a consequence of that, he said, “Not having played cricket for quite a while probably contributed to that,” he said of his slow batting. “Adjusting to the conditions and, I guess, trying to formulate a game plan was also part of that. Being out of the game for quite a while, that was probably the main contributor.” He batted at the No. 4 position in the warm-up games.“
Talking about his encounter with the team, he further said, “Their bowling attack is quite strong – they are the type of team that looks to strike upfront and really try to get into the middle order. We want to make sure we play the powerplay as well as we can so we don’t allow them to get into the middle order with their slower bowlers.
“With the bat, they are quite top-heavy with guys like [Aaron] Finch, [David] Warner, [and Steve] Smith at the top. We are looking to strike up front and put their middle-order batters under pressure. The earlier we can get those guys in, the more we can put them under pressure.”
The last game of an ICC tournament in the format the two met was in Colombo in the 2012 World T20. In that match, Australia crushed the team by eight wickets to bag the victory.