South Africa's power hitters need bowlers to back them up

South Africa's power hitters need bowlers to back them up


The Proteas woes at World Cups are well documented and so expectations back home have been tempered

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CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – South Africa’s power hitters make a compelling case for why they can emerge winners of the T20 World Cup in the United States and West Indies, but whether they have the bowlers to back it up is the big question heading into the June 1-29 tournament.

The country’s woes at World Cups, be it the 50-over or shortest format, are well documented and so the expectations back home have been tempered, with supporters scarred by past failures.

Within the team there is confidence they can claim a maiden crown, albeit the conditions in New York, where they play their first three group games, are unknown. They take on Sri Lanka, Netherlands and Bangladesh in the Big Apple before travelling to Kingstown to face Nepal.

"We know we can play in pressure situations in big games. The players will lean on each under pressure and hopefully (win the tournament)," South Africa coach Rob Walter said.

In captain Aidan Markram, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Quinton de Kock and in-form Tristian Stubbs, they have some of the biggest hitters in the game.

Those are likely to form the top six along with opener Reeza Hendricks and few teams in the competition can boast as impressive a selection of batters able to clear the boundary.

But posting a total is one thing, defending it is another and there will be question marks about their bowling attack.

Lungi Ngidi is only on the reserve list, with the fast bowling options being Kagiso Rabada, Gerald Coetzee, all-rounder Marco Jansen, the inexperienced Ottniel Baartman and Anrich Nortje, who was expensive in this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) after a long injury layoff.

Clearly expecting slow conditions, South Africa have three frontline spinners in Keshav Maharaj, Tabraiz Shamsi and Bjorn Fortuin, with Markram as a handy fourth option.

"There is experience and youth, and the guys who have been chosen from a youth point of view have performed very well this year in T20 cricket," Walter said.

One name not included was that of experienced batter Faf du Plessis, 39, who played his last T20 International in 2020, but had been considered after good domestic and IPL form.

"I spoke to Faf over a year ago about the possibility of playing in the (T20) World Cup. He was absolutely considered, but he was not the only top player who missed out. We couldn’t fit everyone in unfortunately," Walter said.