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Quietly confident South Africa head into the unknown at World Cup

Quietly confident South Africa head into the unknown at World Cup
Aiden Markram of proteas celebrates his century during the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 match between South Africa and Sri Lanka at Arun Jaitley Stadium on October 07, 2023 in Delhi, India. (Photo by Isuru Sameera Peiris/Gallo Images)

June 2 (Reuters) - South Africa will have to adapt to the unknown conditions quickly in their T20 World Cup Group D opener against Sri Lanka in New York on Monday, but captain Aiden Markram is confident his side can end their luckless run at global events.

The fixture will be played on a drop-in pitch at the brand new Nassau County International Cricket Stadium on Long Island, which staged a first ever international fixture when India beat Bangladesh by 60 runs in a warm-up game on Saturday.

It was India’s seamers who did the damage with seven wickets between them, leaving a tricky selection poser for South Africa, who have brought three frontline spinners with them in their squad expecting slow conditions.

“On the day we will have to assess really quickly and then adapt plans that will help us do well,” Markram told reporters on Sunday.

“If you look at it from a big-picture point of view, it is an exciting day, we didn’t think we would ever be playing a World Cup game in New York.

“It is a beautiful training facility and we will get a first look at the stadium and the pitch later (on Sunday) to assess things.”

The match has a 10.30am local start time and it is unusual for a T20 clash to be played in the morning when conditions may be crisp.

“It is different, we are used to mostly playing in the evenings, but we have had a routine since we have got here to wake up early and do things together as a team early in the mornings so by now we are used to it,” Markram said.

South Africa have a well-known list of failures at 50-over and 20-over World Cups, where they have been favourites going in and found unusual ways to go out.

They are not among the leading sides this time round but Markram feels that if they hit their straps, they are a match for anyone in the competition.

“I am feeling quietly confident, there are really good teams here but we feel if we find our form and play to the best of our ability we can beat anyone,” he said.

“We have put a lot of focus on ourselves and we will see where it gets us. But we are certainly here to lift the trophy.”

South Africa also play Nepal, Netherlands and Bangladesh in their pool.

(Reporting by Nick Said; editing by Clare Fallon)

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