South Africa’s comfortable 87-run victory against Sri Lanka in an ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup warm-up game in Cardiff on 24 May will have given the team a good deal of confidence heading into the tournament, not least with respect to the strength in depth they have in the seam bowling all-rounders spots.
Runs for Andile Phehlukwayo (35), Dwaine Pretorius (25*) and Chris Morris (26*) and wickets for Phehlukwayo and Pretorius, means all three men should be in the mix for a spot in the starting XI.
“I think there is quite good competition and good depth within the squad,” Phehlukwayo said. “Personally, I am not looking in terms of those competitions. I just want to contribute for the team, whoever is playing in that all-rounder position is obviously the person in form and hopefully they can do the job for the team. Aside from that I don’t think personally I have any agenda in terms of the all-rounder.
“We have a very diverse squad so I think on the day we can play any combinations and that team that is fit to play will do everything to perform and to win the game for South Africa. So, at the moment I am really not sure, but I know that the diversity and the depth that we have in our squad is really good so whoever is fit to play will do the job for the team.”
South Africa’s captain, Faf du Plessis, said that at least one of those three players would have to sit out.
“There is definitely not space for three of them,” Du Plessis said. “Depending on fitness, Dale Steyn is progressing. So, if he doesn’t progress the way that he wants to then two all-rounders comes into the equation. If our fast bowlers are all fit, we love that diversity in our attack.”
In the match against Sri Lanka runs from the lower middle order was hugely important in South Africa posting a total of 338/7 after there was a burst of three wickets for 52 runs in the middle of their innings. When asked if he sees himself as a finisher, he said that was a role he relishes.
“Definitely I do,” Phehlukwayo said. “Every day you’re learning in terms of your batting, your bowling, and I need to get into the nets and keep improving my power hitting. It’s definitely there and today there were glimpses of it. I need to go and practice it a little bit more.”
The pitch in Cardiff seemed to have lots of runs in it, and the games in England in recent times have seen big scores in ODIs. Phelukwayo has said dealing with being hit for boundaries when bowling or looking for boundaries when batting is a big part of the game.
“It’s the mindset that you take in, in terms of watching all the games and then when you’re in the middle, and you face a few balls and you’ve got to get yourself in quickly. You don’t want to get fewer runs and then get caught up at the end of the day going, we should have gone earlier, or we should have waited. Those things you’ve got to adjust, and you’ve got to assess really quickly, and you’ve got to train yourself in the nets, and that’s something that comes with the game plan, and on the day how the wicket is playing.
“Sitting at home watching a couple of the games in England it has been really interesting. And to come and see how good the wickets truly are is going to be fantastic. I think it is going to be a high scoring tournament. I think the team that bowls really well in this tournament will win the tournament. I think we would have liked a few more runs. Obviously, they bowled quite well and the wicket had something in it through the whole innings so it was nice to see that both of the teams got a good outcome out of the game. Especially for us, out there batting and scoring 300 runs is quite a lot of confidence for us going into the tournament.”
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