CAPE TOWN – It may be an even shorter format, but the three T20 Internationals between the Proteas and Sri Lanka this week is the last chance for any World Cup hopefuls.
And while captain Faf du Plessis has said that 98 to 99 percent of the 15-man squad is virtually in place, it is never to late to catch the eye with a few devastating innings or breathtaking bowling performances.
Here are five men who need to make one final push and state their case for World Cup selection, starting with Tuesday’s first encounter at Newlands (6pm start)…
A career-best 67 not out was certainly welcome for the Titans star in the light-affected ODI at Newlands on Saturday, but he had real fortune in reaching that score – he was dropped on two and 13, and even his bat broke in half! Markram did play some delightful shots again, but he needs to be commanding in the T20Is to confirm his place in England and Wales.
It could yet be a straight shoot-out between Markram and Hendricks for one batting spot. And with Markram not yet a sure thing, Hendricks could force his way back into the mix with a few big scores in these three T20I games.
The tall paceman has been bowling with serious pace, but has perhaps overdone the bouncer. It may work well in the Mzansi Super League and against Sri Lankan batsmen, but it won’t be enough against India, Australia, England and the West Indies.
Let’s see some swing and slower balls…
Pretorius is certainly an effective cricketer – bats solidly, bowls well and is an athletic fielder – but can he win you a game?
He will need to come up with some fireworks in these three matches to book a ticket to the UK, especially with Chris Morris also in the group.
This surely has to be the last-chance saloon for the Titans big-hitter. He has the X-factor of being a match-winner – mainly with the bat, though – but can he do it consistently?
Andile Phehlukwayo is definitely the first-choice No 7, so it’s up to Morris to prove he can bowl well enough to be ahead of Pretorius.
Proteas Squad for 1st T20I
Faf du Plessis (captain), Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Reeza Hendricks, Imran Tahir, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Rassie van der Dussen.
Proteas Squad for last two T20Is
JP Duminy (captain), Reeza Hendricks, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Chris Morris, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Sinethemba Qeshile, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lutho Sipamla, Dale Steyn, Rassie van der Dussen.