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CRUNCH ENCOUNTER

SA to harness ‘Protea spirit’ to get their Cricket World Cup campaign on track

SA to harness ‘Protea spirit’ to get their Cricket World Cup campaign on track
Marco Jansen of the Proteas celebrates the wicket of Netherlands' Max O'Dowd during the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 at HPCA Stadium on 17 October, 2023, in Dharamsala, India. (Photo: Pankaj Nangia/Gallo Images

The Proteas are face reigning champions England on Saturday with both teams looking to rebound from shock defeats.

South Africa will look to get their Cricket World Cup campaign back on track when they face reigning champions England at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday.

Both teams are coming off shock defeats. The Proteas lost to Netherlands by 38 runs on Tuesday while England lost by 69 runs to Afghanistan last Sunday.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Proteas crumble in another shock loss to Netherlands

“If you looked at it after the game, the boys were hurting. But it’s part and parcel of being a professional sportsman,” Proteas spinner Keshav Maharaj said to the media.

“But we woke up the next day and the guys are rejuvenated and ready to go again.

“Obviously, it’s a massive game for us against England on Saturday. The boys are ready to hit the ground running and just pick up where we left off against the Australian team.”

Despite South Africa’s defeat, they still sit comfortably at third on the 10-team table by virtue of their two early victories against Sri Lanka and Australia.

England sit at fifth place, having only won one of their opening three matches. They lost to New Zealand in the opening match of the tournament before getting one over Bangladesh.

Proteas

South Africa stand for the National anthem ahead of their clash with Netherlands at HPCA Stadium on 17 October, 2023, in Dharamsala, India. (Photo: Pankaj Nangia/Gallo Images)

Protea spirit

Prior to the defeat to the Dutch, South Africa were on a five-match win streak in One Day Internationals.

“Like any sport, you’re bound to have a bad game,” Maharaj said. “And I’d like to think and hope that this was that one bad game out of the way.

“It’s very hard to actually put a finger on it because everyone was up for the challenge on the day.

It’s just about dusting ourselves off, getting up and, you know, showing the true Protea spirit that we have within us. And when our backs against the wall will hopefully come back from that.”

Keshav Maharaj, Proteas

South Africa’s Keshav Maharaj celebrates the wicket of Sri Lanka’s Dhananjaya de Silva during the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023. (Photo: Pankaj Nangia/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

England skipper Jos Buttler said his team is focusing inward heading into the clash but is weary of the hurting Proteas.

“I’m sure it will be a fantastic contest,” Buttler said. “We look at the opposition but a lot of focus on ourselves as well.

“We’ve had some good conversations on how we want to play our cricket, how we want to commit to the style we want to play and that’s always more important than the result.

“We put ourselves out there, we compete… The opposition want to win games as well, we won’t always win but if we can stick to the way that we like to play our cricket and get to the best version of that we know that’s the best chance for us to get positive results.”

England captain Jos Buttler

England captain Jos Buttler. (Photo: Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

England and South Africa are traditionally known for their fast-bowling exploits. Neither team’s bowling attack has lit the tournament up yet but according to Buttler, it’s where Saturday’s match could be decided.

“They’ve been playing some really good cricket. Their top six is a really strong top six,” the skipper said.

“Pace with the ball is one of their strengths. Something both teams like, pace on the ball so it should be a fascinating contest.

“They’re a really good team, you always expect a really tough challenge when you face South Africa.” DM

South Africa face England at 10:30am CAT Saturday morning.

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