Proteas are ‘calm’ and ready for semi-final clash with Australia — Bavuma
South Africa are aiming to reach the final of the Cricket World Cup for the first time.
The SA team will face Australia on Thursday in their Cricket world Cup semi-final. Picture: Sajjad Hussain/AFP
The Proteas are calm and settled, according to captain Temba Bavuma, as they prepare for their crunch clash on Thursday in an attempt to make history at the Cricket World Cup.
Having competed in four semi-finals at the quadrennial 50-over showpiece since making their debut in 1992, South Africa have consistently been among the contenders.
Not once, however, have they progressed to the final, leaving perhaps the biggest blemish on South African sport.
Despite the magnitude of the occasion, however, Bavuma said the in-form SA team were ready for a hard-fought battle against five-time champions Australia in their World Cup semi-final in Kolkata (starting at 10.30am).
Having won seven of their nine matches in the group stage of the tournament, and after beating Australia in the last four successive ODI games between the two sides, the Proteas skipper felt they were ready to go.
“There’s a sense of calmness within the team and obviously the normal level of anxiety that you would expect going into the game tomorrow,” Bavuma said on Wednesday.
“But I think we’ll take a lot of confidence from our performances up until this point.”
Fit to play?
It remained unclear whether Bavuma would play on Thursday after he picked up a hamstring injury in their round-robin game against Afghanistan last week.
The skipper trained on Monday and Tuesday, but he took Wednesday off along with most of the players in the squad, as they attempted to focus on their mental approach in the build-up to the knockout game.
Though he felt strong enough to play, however, Bavuma was still waiting for a decision from team management and medical staff. If he was unavailable, Proteas T20 captain Aiden Markram was expected to take his place as the leader of the side.
“Physically I feel alright, but not 100%, so obviously this (rest) day becomes important in terms of a decision about tomorrow,” he said.
“I’m quite confident, but I mean, it’s not a unilateral decision that will be made.”
No ‘Mickey Mouse’ team
Bavuma admitted he was “a bit nervous” ahead of the match but the national squad were trying to take the pressure off by thinking of it as “just another game”.
They nonetheless respected their opposition, who were ranked second in the world – one place ahead of South Africa – and Bavuma insisted they were not underestimating the Australians.
“We’re not coming up against a ‘Mickey Mouse’ team. Australia have a lot of experience and confidence in knockout games like this, so we’ve got to respect that,” he said.
“I’d hate to say that we deserve to go through because of the way we played our cricket. I don’t think that’s the way things go. But I think from our performances, from the processes that we’ve followed to get to this point, we’ll continue to lean on that and we believe that will take care of the result.”