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Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

Even without Bavuma, Proteas believe they can reach World Cup final

Reeza Hendricks will replace Temba Bavuma if the injured skipper can't play.

Though he admitted they would prefer to have their leader on the field, Rassie van der Dussen believes the Proteas can stand up and deliver this week even if captain Temba Bavuma is unable to compete.

The SA team will face Australia in their semi-final in Kolkata on Thursday, in an attempt to reach the Cricket World Cup final for the first time.

They might have to do it without their skipper, however, after Bavuma picked up a hamstring strain in their last match of the group stage in Ahmedabad on Friday.

While it remained unclear whether Bavuma would recover in time for their playoff clash, Van der Dussen said they were confident his potential replacement at the top of the order, Reeza Hendricks, would be up for it.

“Our squad system has been so good, so obviously if he (Bavuma) is not there, a guy like Reeza has put his hand up when he’s got the opportunities,” said Van der Dussen, who scored an unbeaten 76 to carry his team to victory in their match against Afghanistan last week.

“At training he’s been brilliant and in terms of conditioning and in the gym and his attitude, with everything, he’s been brilliant. So we know we have a really capable replacement if it’s needed.”

Same approach

Having approached the entire first round as if they were playing knockout matches, due to the consistency required to reach the playoffs, Van der Dussen insisted they wouldn’t need to change too much ahead of their battle against five-time champions Australia.

Regardless of the result, he expected it to be a hard-fought contest between two of the world’s best sides.

“From the start (of the tournament) it’s been almost like a must-win type of mindset for us, so I don’t think too much will be different,” he said.

“I think it will be a good game. They’re a great team and they’ve played a lot of cricket in the last few months.

“Some of their guys are playing well, some of our guys are playing well. I think it’s going to be a good game.”

Seam bowler Lizaad Williams, who had returned home from India last week for the birth of his child, linked up again with the Proteas squad in Kolkata on Sunday.

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