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South Africa, Australia gear up for World T20

Steyn set to return for three-match T20I series that will serve to fine-tune plans for the mega event in India

South Africa, Australia gear up for World T20 - Cricket News
Two of South Africa’s series wins were in the subcontinent which puts the team on sound footing ahead of the world event later this month.
Australia and South Africa will kick off their final preparations for the ICC World Twenty20 2016 with the first match of a three-game Twenty20 International series at the Kingsmead in Durban on Friday (March 4).
South Africa has won three of its last four T20I series, while Australia lost 0-3 against India at home. Moreover, two of South Africa’s series wins were in the subcontinent – including against India in India – which puts the team on sound footing ahead of the world event later this month. In further good news for South Africa, Dale Steyn is fit and available and will be raring to go after an injury-enforced spell on the sidelines.
Keen to keep up the momentum, Russell Domingo, South Africa’s coach, was looking forward to the contest against Australia. “It’s good to judge yourself against some of the better sides and better players,” said Domingo, while also welcoming Steyn back. “A hungry, fit, energised Dale is a massive plus for us. He hasn’t played for South Africa for a long period of time and he has come here with a great attitude. He is desperate to play, desperate to do well, he wants to win a World Cup, he wants to be involved in all formats of the game, so his energy levels are right up there and that bodes really well for us.
“He is an experienced bowler, whether he is bowling four overs or 10 overs in one-day cricket, so it’s not a big train smash for us,” he went on. “The big thing for these type of players is making sure the hunger and passion is there, he has definitely got that at the moment.”

Apart from Steyn, South Africa has a chance to get its combination right before the world event. “We have all got an idea of probably what our best combination will be. I am very keen to give everybody a game during this series, we want guys getting to the World T20 having played some sort of cricket, so that’s important for us,” explained Domingo. “Once again winning is also important, we want to go to the World Cup confident, up there in the rankings, with a good style of play and some good performances behind us.”
One of South Africa’s recent strengths has been its ability to bowl tight in the death overs. Kyle Abbott credited Charl Langeveldt, the bowling coach, for the hard work he has put in.
“He has been very good for us, especially at the death,” Abbott said of Langeveldt. “We have placed a lot of emphasis on the death bowling, even when we are bowling first to stop momentum at the backend of an innings, and closing out when defending, it’s a massive part of the game. We have got guys here that have been around. We are identifying our roles and what each player needs to do at certain situations of the game and that has worked for us over the last ten games.”
Australia, on the other hand, has a new captain in Steven Smith, making for one leader across formats for the team. Smith will succeed Aaron Finch as the skipper, having been appointed after Australia’s T20I series loss against India.
Smith featured only in the first game of that series, before travelling to New Zealand. He said the series against South Africa was an opportunity to prepare for the World T20 in India, where the team is yet to win a T20I series.
“For us it’s about playing some T20 cricket together, we haven’t played a great deal of T20 over the last couple of years so it’s a great opportunity for us to try and gel together as a unit before the World T20,” said Smith. “Hopefully the South African curators can try and make the pitches a little bit slow and turning. I think that would benefit both sides, so we will wait and see what they come up with.”

One of the issues that came to the fore in Australia’s loss against India was the work the batsmen needed to put in against quality spin bowling. Against South Africa, the batting will have to face up to Imran Tahir, who took five wickets in the two T20I wins against England.
Glenn Maxwell praised Tahir and admitted that Australia has not handled spin well, but was confident of tackling the issue. “Imran is very experienced. He is an outstanding bowler. He has been very successfully and he played really well in the IPL last year. I think that was a big thing for him and for his confidence,” said Maxwell. “He seems to grab the momentum back for South Africa every time he comes on.
"Our record hasn't been great in the subcontinent, especially playing excellent spin. You've only to look back at our last performance [at the World T20] in 2014 in Bangladesh: Ajmal, Afridi, Narine, we struggled against,” added Maxwell. "If you look at our batting order, it's suited to combat that. We have got excellent players of spin in our team and guys that have got international experience in India.”
Australia has always been a team that never gives up till the last ball is bowled, and regardless of recent results, this should be a well-fought series , giving both teams a chance to sharpen their competitive edge before travelling to India.
Teams (from):
South Africa:
Faf du Plessis (capt), Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wk), JP Duminy, David Miller, David Wiese, Rilee Rossouw, Chris Morris, Kyle Abbott, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir, Aaron Phangiso.
Australia: Steven Smith (capt), David Warner, Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Shane Watson, Glenn Maxwell, James Faulkner, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill (wk), Ashton Agar, Nathan Coulter-Nile, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood, Adam Zampa, Andrew Tye.

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