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South Africa name T20I team for Australia

Faf du Plessis’ decision to step down from captaincy was followed by South Africa announcing their T20I team to take Australia on in a three-match series starting February 21. Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Faf du Plessis himself were named in the team that will be led by wicket-keeper batsman Quinton de Kock.

Du Plessis had earlier commented that he he made the decision to quit after the 2019 World Cup to allow time for re-building and finding a new permanent skipper. He has agreed to work closely with the new captain in this transition period and called the last few months the most toughest of his captaincy tenure.

“After the 2019 ICC World Cup, I made the decision to continue in my role as captain while the team went through a rebuilding phase following the retirement of some key senior players and a complete overhaul of the coaching staff that we had worked with until then,” du Plessis said. “It was important to me that I stayed to help the team find its feet and plot a new way forward while assisting in identifying the next generation of leaders within the players’ group during a time of turbulence in SA cricket. The last season of my captaincy has been the most challenging to date as I had a lot of off-field issues that I devoted my energy towards.”

Despite rumours surrounding his return, AB de Villiers wasn’t named in the squad for the Australian series. Reeza Hendricks is another batsman left out of the squad having missed the series against England too. Sisanda Magala is still under scrutiny for his fitness and wasn’t considered. Uncapped batsman Pite van Biljon remains with the team and could make a debut in the Australian series.

South Africa developed a solid opening pair in Temba Bavuma and Quinton de Kock in the England series with the two sharing amazing rapport in limited-overs cricket batting together. 

De Kock – Bavuma limited-overs partnerships ever:

159, 119, 57, 64*, 173, 66, 48, 92, 84. 

That’s just one partnership less than 50 (48) in nine innings together.

But South Africa may not have the luxury of playing these two together in the Australian series with Bavuma carrying a niggle. This could mean Van Biljon opening or Jon-Jon Smuts stepping up in the role he has donned in franchise cricket.

“The T20 series may not have been won but it was really pleasing to see our batting unit play so well,” chief selector Linda Zondi said. “They showed a lot of aggression, particularly upfront, in every match which set a good foundation for the rest of the line-up to follow. The very exciting bursts of cricket that we were served up bode very well for the future, especially in the short term as we begin our hunt in earnest for the T20 World Cup squad.”

Though Quinton de Kock is yet to be confirmed as the permanent T20 skipper, the announcement should come soon enough, which means he will be donning the triple role of opening, keeping wickets and leading the side in both ODIs and T20Is.

The series starts on Friday February 21st in Johannesburg and is followed by matches in Port Elizabeth on Sunday and Cape Town the Wednesday after that.

SA T20I squad

Quinton de Kock. Temba Bavuma, Faf du Plessis, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Pite van Biljon, Dwaine Pretorius, Andile Phehlukwayo, Jon-Jon Smuts, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi, Bjorn Fortuin, Anrich Nortje, Dale Steyn, Heinrich Klaasen

 

Rohit Sankar is a freelance cricket journalist stuck in a love-hate live-in relationship with the game. To rile him up, mention the 1999 World Cup semi-final. Rohit has been writing about cricket for well over 10 years now, and has written for a variety of news and sports outlets over this time.

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