South Africa have always been known for producing some of the cricket world’s most exceptional talents. Despite their reputation of choking, this is perhaps the first time they’re walking into an ICC tournament as genuine underdogs.
The first major concern or point of discussion that comes up with South Africa isn’t about who is in the squad but those who aren’t.
AB Devilliers, Imran Tahir, Faf du Plessis and Chris Morris-- all made themselves available for selection, only for CSA to snub them.
Of them, the biggest surprise was Faf du Plessis. The former captain retired from test cricket earlier this year, to focus on the two upcoming World T20s. However, untimely injuries and ongoing rifts with the cricket board led to him getting sidelined from every T20I series this year and eventually the WT20.
Big scores in the CPL and a phenomenal season of the IPL, including a Match winning performance in the final, weren’t enough to persuade the board and selectors.
While several individuals in South Africa’s WT20 squad may not be rated highly, this is not a team any opponent should take lightly. The young captain, Temba Bavuma, will be assisted by vice-captain Keshav Maharaj, who has only played 3 T20Is and has already captained the team to a 3-0 clean sweep against Sri Lanka in this short space of time.
WIcket-keeper and opening batsman Quinton De Kock has captained the team briefly as well in the past and is certainly one of the players to watch out for. His experience of playing T20 cricket all over the world, specifically in the UAE, should come in handy.
Both him and Aiden Markham would look to carry their form from the Sri Lanka series. There is some concern regarding the middle order and their inconsistency but the presence of JP Duminy as a consultant might help sort this problem out.
South Africa’s bowling attack, despite the absence of Imran Tahir, is looking formidable. Anrich Nortje is coming fresh off a wonderful IPL and this is his second good season in the UAE. Partnering with him will be the fierce and experienced Kagiso Rabada.
The spin attack of South Africa, on the other hand, might be an even bigger asset given the playing conditions.
Not only do they have the current number one ranked T20I bowler in the form of Tabraiz Shamsi but also two left-arm spinners in Bjorn Fortuin and Keshav Maharaj. Pace bowling all-rounders Wiaan Mulder and Dwaine Pretorius will provide the team with the luxury of playing two specialist spinners.
Even with all the noise around this team, it has the ability to defeat any opponent. Only time will tell if CSA’s faith in this young squad pays off.