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Low expectations could suit dark horses South Africa

Low expectations could suit dark horses South Africa

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - Third International Twenty20 - South Africa v England - Newlands Cricket Ground, Cape Town, South Africa - December 1, 2020 South Africa's Temba Bavuma in action REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham

South Africa begin another quest for a major trophy at the T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates with low expectations back home, but some good form under their belt that suggests they might emerge as dark horses.

The team will be without two of the best batsmen in the world in the shortest format after AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis were not considered for selection despite an apparent eagerness to play, while experienced leg-spinner Imran Tahir has also been deemed surplus to requirements.

Cricket South Africa has decided to make a break from the past and embark on a new path with a relatively inexperienced white ball captain in Temba Bavuma, who was appointed in March and comes into the tournament on the back of a spell on the sidelines with a finger injury.

"The pressure is always there, it’s my first world (cup) event," Bavuma told reporters "This is the only experience I have. I can’t compare it to anything else.

"We expect ourselves to do well as a team, and that is where the pressure comes from."

For all the talk of their missing players, South Africa do have some match-winners and in a format where individual performance can swing a contest quickly, that is important.

Left-arm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi is the number one ranked T20 bowler in the world, while in the pace department, perhaps less of a factor on the slow wickets of the UAE, Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje bring guile as well as speed.

Quinton de Kock can be devastating at the top of the batting order and David Miller is a powerful hitter in the middle-order with the joint fastest ever T20 international hundred to his name off 35 balls against Bangladesh.

But there also remains question marks over their death bowling and a perceived frailty in the remainder of the batting lineup that has fired in fits and starts.

That being said, they have won their last seven T20 internationals in a row against West Indies, Ireland and Sri Lanka, all away from home, and were impressive in their successful pursuit of 186 against Pakistan in their warm-up fixture on Wednesday.

Just as in the 50-over format, but perhaps without the same drama, South Africa have failed to reach the final of the T20 World Cup in the past, with semi-final appearances in 2009 and 2014 their best finishes.

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Toby Davis)

Source: Reuters

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