South Africa captain Temba Bavuma had to return home for family reasons and miss out on the World Cup warm-up fixtures. But the team’s head coach Rob Walter expects him to re-join the squad in time for the first match - against Sri Lanka in Delhi on October 7.
“Temba’s is a personal situation and he left the team due to personal reasons and we are looking forward to him coming back next week. So, the impact (of his absence) on the team will be negligible. A guy like Temba has played a lot and has scored recently, so I am not worried about him personally,” Walter said.
Earlier this month, Bavuma scored an unbeaten 114 against Australia in the first ODI, but suffered a hamstring niggle. Though he was fit to play the next two games, the captain suffered an inner thigh muscle strain and was rested from the fourth ODI as a precautionary measure. On return in the final game of the series, he made a two-ball duck.
But given his experience, the team management isn’t much concerned. In the absence of Bavuma, Aiden Markram was to lead South Africa in the warm-up games, but incessant rain on Friday led to the cancellation of the fixture against Afghanistan at the Greenfield International Stadium. While Walter has no hesitations in admitting that ‘it’s never great missing game time’ ahead of a big-ticket affair, the coach believes the experience of playing on five different surfaces against Australia recently, will help the Proteas.
“The fortunate part of the South Africa series was the fact that we were exposed to five different pitches - right from the very first game in Bloemfontein till the end. That stands us in good stead. At the end of the day, we will have to respond to the conditions in front of you, have a skill set that matches the needs of the game and execute it,” Walter said.
“For us, it will be about reading the pitches and trying to understand what they need for us to do. It’s never great to miss game time, but fortunately, we played just recently. We are in a good position,” the coach said.
Ahead of the World Cup, Walter wants to get an idea about his bowling department because in the five-match ODI series against Australia - which South Africa won 3-2 - the bowlers did not get a chance to bowl beyond 40 overs in each of the outings. So, keeping the high-intensity of the World Cup in mind, Walter wants the bowling line-up to hang in there for a full quota of 50 overs.
“Any warm-up game is about trying and keeping the momentum going at the back end of the Australia series. Continue acclimatising - the heat is very different compared to what it was in South Africa, so it’s about getting some time on the legs. The last few games, from the bowling point of view, only went up to 35 overs, so we really wanted to get full 50 overs out there, but unfortunately, the weather did not hold up…”
South Africa will now be hoping for some game time when it faces New Zealand on Monday.
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