Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Bavuma, Shamsi fit for SA's T20 WC opener. As the top-ranked T20I bowler, Shamsi is crucial to South Africa's chances in the World Cup
As the top-ranked T20I bowler, Shamsi is crucial to South Africa's chances in the World Cup
With fitness questions over Temba Bavuma and Tabraiz Shamsi settled, South Africa should be at full strength for their T20 WC opener against Australia in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
Bavuma, who broke a thumb in Sri Lanka in September, played his first cricket in 50 days this week in his team's warm-up matches against Afghanistan and Pakistan. Shamsi limped off with a groin problem after bowling four deliveries against Pakistan on Wednesday.
But Bavuma told a press conference on Friday that both had been cleared to play: “On my side, the fitness is good. I 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 he's also good to go. He did pass his fitness test today.”
As the top-ranked T20I bowler, Shamsi is crucial to South Africa's chances in a tournament that will be played on pitches that would have been slow even before the completion of the IPL sapped life from the surfaces.
Bavuma will want to move up a gear after scoring 77 runs at a strike rate of 95.06 in the warm-up games, in which he opened and batted at No. 4. “Not having played cricket for quite a while probably contributed to that,” he said of his relatively 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.”
South Africa have lost eight of their 21 T20Is against Australia, most recently in a home series in February last year – when the Aussies won 2-1. Bavuma didn't play in that rubber and he has yet to take on Australia in the format, but he had a handle on how they would approach Saturday's match: Their bowling attack is quite strong – they are the type of team that look to strike up front 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 teams have met only once before in an ICC tournament in the format, in Colombo in the 2012 T20 WC. Australia held South Africa to 146/5 and won by eight wickets with 14 balls to spare.