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South Africa seek to maintain ODI momentum against West Indies

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EAST LONDON: South Africa will look to maintain their ODI momentum ahead of the World Cup, but they are set to contend with key injuries as they take on West Indies in a three-match 50-over series starting at Buffalo Park in East London on Thursday.

The Proteas wrapped up a convincing 2-0 Test series win against West Indies earlier in the month, having beaten world champions England 2-1 in an ODI series in January-February. That series triumph significantly boosted South Africa’s 2023 World Cup qualification chances.

While Shukri Conrad has already taken charge of the Test side, this latest series will be the first for new white-ball coach Rob Walter having completed his term with New Zealand’s Central Stags.

Walter will be without important players, however, after Keshav Maharaj ruptured his left Achilles in the Test series. Wiaan Mulder is also unavailable with a left side strain, with Tabraiz Shamsi and Wayne Parnell replacing the pair.

Meanwhile, South African ODI skipper Temba Bavuma said a debut or two is in the offing for the first ODI against the West Indies.

The West Indies Test series in Centurion and Johannesburg saw Gerald Coetzee and Tony de Zorzi make their debuts.

The duo also put in a shift during Wednesday morning’s training session at the venue, while Tristan Stubbs and Ryan Rickelton were also in operation.

Marco Jansen, who has played five T20s, was also drafted into the squad as Andile Phehlukwayo (back), Sisanda Magala (hand), and Wayne Parnell (illness) all had sickness or injury to worry about.

Parnell, though, batted and bowled in East London’s heat and humidity, with Jansen doing the same.

Bavuma didn’t possess Conrad’s pre-second Test confidence by naming the match-day 11 on the eve of the game, but said they have confidence in the guys who will play.

“The guys have been added to the squad and have been part of our plans of the ODIs that took place before the Test series,” Bavuma said.

“It’s great that they’ve done well before the Test series, so it’s going to be important for them to carry on with the confidence and form gained from the Test series.

“You can expect a couple of new faces and debutants because we’d like to see how well they can fit in for our plans going forward.”

Bavuma said that, while they won’t be underestimating West Indies, they also have the twin responsibilities of winning and giving fresh blood a new opportunity.

The West Indies series doesn’t fall into that significant World Cup qualification bracket, which allows South Africa some experimentation leeway ahead of the key Netherlands engagement later this month.

West Indies have also made leadership changes prior to the series, with Shai Hope taking over the captaincy from Nicholas Pooran.

Pooran remains in the side and will look to form a key part of the middle order alongside Roston Chase and Shamarh Brook.

South Africa’s wicket-keeper/batter Quinton de Kock has played 137 ODIs and is just 99 runs away from becoming the seventh men’s player to score 6,000 runs for the country in ODIs.

If he reaches the milestone in his first match of the series, De Kock will become the third-fastest player overall to that mark in the history of ODIs, behind only compatriot Hashim Amla and Virat Kohli of India.

Published in Dawn, March 16th, 2023


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