Sport

CRICKET WORLD CUP

Bavuma back for Proteas in clash against ‘dangerous’ Pakistan

Bavuma back for Proteas in clash against ‘dangerous’ Pakistan
Proteas’ skipper Temba Bavuma plays a shot during the Cricket World Cup 2023 match against Australia in Lucknow, India, on 12 October 2023. (Photo: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

South Africa are one of the form teams in the World Cup, but face a desperate Pakistan team in challenging conditions on Friday.

The soaring Proteas face a desperate Pakistan outfit at the Chepauk Stadium in Chennai on Friday in their sixth Cricket World Cup match.

Pakistan are sixth on the Cricket World Cup table with two wins and three losses after five matches. Their most recent loss was a shock eight-wicket defeat to Afghanistan and they need a win against the Proteas to keep their World Cup hopes alive.

Skipper Temba Bavuma will return to lead the Proteas after missing the last two matches because of illness.

Bavuma said his side would go into Friday’s match with the same mindset that has seen them catapult to second on the table. 

“We’ll plan for the game how we’ve been planning for all our games,” the skipper said at the pre-match press conference on Thursday.

“We had our meetings today, we went through the Pakistan team, the threats that they bring, their strengths and obviously their weaknesses.

“Probably a basic form is to exploit those weaknesses and nullify their strengths. Pakistan are a dangerous team. We know that they haven’t played close to their best, but tomorrow could be that. We’ll make sure we are ready for that.”

proteas pakistan rabada

Kagiso Rabada of South Africa celebrates the wicket of Litton Das of Bangladesh during the Cricket World Cup 2023 match at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, India, on 24 October 2023. (Photo: Pankaj Nangia / Gallo Images

The conditions in Chennai have suited spin bowling thus far and Bavuma has already confirmed one change to the team.

“We haven’t finalised the team yet,” he said. “We haven’t seen the wicket yet. It’s still under covers, but definitely you can expect for [Tabraiz] Shamsi to come into play.”

Playing conditions

The Proteas have set massive totals when batting first in this World Cup. They have crossed the 300-run mark every time and have become a feared unit with the willow.

The ​​Chepauk Stadium, however, has not seen high scores in the four World Cup matches played there. No team has gone past 300, with New Zealand’s 288 for six against Afghanistan the highest total.

The turning and slightly slower pitch makes free-flowing cricket — which the Proteas play — a challenge.

“I think what we’ve done well is that there’s that process within our batting of assessing the conditions,” Bavuma said. “Looking at what we need from a skill and option point of view to be successful, and that’s what we’ve done well. I think the process in itself, batting here in Chennai, that’s not going to change.

“We’ll assess the wicket and come up with options as to how we can be successful. And if the opportunity is there for us to score 350, we’ll do so. If not, we’ll make sure we play what’s happening in front of us as best as we can.”

South Africa’s one defeat so far in the World Cup, a 38-run humbling by the Netherlands, came when they batted second.

As well as their tactic of batting first and setting massive totals has worked, at some stage the Proteas are going to have to bat second again, something Bavuma is aware of.

“I watched the Afghanistan game with Pakistan and it seemed to get a lot better batting under light,” he said about potentially batting second if South Africa win the toss tomorrow.

“I guess there’s that temptation from a batting point of view at least. And then there’s obviously us needing to consider the fact that we’ve had a lot of success of late, batting first.

“Fortunately for me, I don’t have to make that decision right now. But I think we know somewhere along the line in the tournament we’ll have to bat second.

“The conversations that we’ve had as batters is to find ways as to how we can still follow that same process that we follow when we’re batting first.” DM 

The match between South Africa and Pakistan begins at 10.30am CAT.

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