Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

CSA T20 Challenge: Final auditions for Proteas World Cup hopefuls

The bulk of the Proteas players that will be named in the World Cup squad are currently playing in the IPL in India.

The CSA T20 Challenge hits the business end this week with the semifinals set to be battled out and local players will have their final chance to impress the Proteas selectors ahead of the T20 World Cup in the USA and West Indies in June.

The Lions host the Titans in what should be another blockbuster Highveld derby in the first semi on Wednesday night, followed by the Dolphins welcoming the Warriors to Durban for the second semi on Thursday evening, both games starting at 6pm.

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There are fringe players in all four teams who will be desperate to impress and throw their names into the hat for selection for the World Cup.

Proteas at IPL

The bulk of Proteas players that will be named in that World Cup squad are currently playing in the IPL in India, but there will be a few players still in action in the CSA T20 that should also make it.

 Lions opener Reeza Hendricks, Titans stars Lungi Ngidi and Tabraiz Shamsi and Warriors opener Matthew Breetzke will all have strong chances of making the World Cup squad.

Some of the players bubbling under that should also be in the frame include Lions opener Ryan Rickelton, who has carried his top SA20 form into the CSA T20, and all-rounder Wiaan Mulder who has been solid all season.

Dolphins batting all-rounder Bryce Parsons and Warriors bowling all-rounder Beyers Swanepoel have also made strong statements for their inclusion, although having not been in the Proteas mix before will count against them.

Some players will also be worried about whether they will even make the World Cup squad, Proteas Test captain Temba Bavuma having had a very average CSA T20, while Rassie van der Dussen has shown sparks of his skill at times and both are not guaranteed picks.

Up and comers

Some young up and coming stars have also impressed, with SA U19 wicketkeeper batsman Lhuan-dre Pretorius establishing himself as a Titans regular over the competition, while teen fast bowling sensation Kwena Maphaka started brilliantly before he was snapped up by the Mumbai Indians.

However it is likely too early for either of them to be brought into the Proteas setup going into a World Cup.

Looking at the first semi, Titans captain Neil Brand is expecting another thriller between the sides, after they both won a game each in the pool stage, both off the last ball of the match as the Lions won by one run at the Wanderers and the Titans triumphed by two wickets at Centurion.

“The Lions have a very strong squad this year with a lot of Proteas players. So we will have to be at our best. I think our bowling attack has really clicked now and everyone knows what their role is,” said Brand.

“I think it will be another great game. We have had two last ball finishes against the Lions and I am pretty sure this will be another nailbiter.”