Bavuma puts South Africa on shock alert as he demands focus for Bangladesh series

By Sports Desk March 17, 2022

South Africa captain Temba Bavuma has warned of the dangers of complacency as the Proteas tackle Bangladesh in a significant ODI series.

The three games in six days could have a major bearing on whether South Africa ease into the Cricket World Cup, or whether they have to go to the subsequent qualifying competition next year.

Series defeats to Sri Lanka and Pakistan, plus a draw with Ireland and an abandoned series against the Netherlands, have left the Proteas down in 10th position in the Cricket World Cup Super League after 10 games.

Bangladesh have played 15 games so far, winning 10 of those, and sit top of the table, just ahead of England, with India in third place.

South Africa have won all nine of their previous men's ODIs at home against Bangladesh, so they head into this series as firm favourites. A 3-0 ODI series win away to India in January showed their prowess, albeit that did not count towards World Cup qualification.

Bavuma said ahead of Friday's SuperSport Park opener: "We must make sure that we get ourselves in the right mental space. One of the things we have spoken about from a mental point of view is that coming up against a side like India generally it is easier for the guys to get themselves up.

"With Bangladesh, we can't afford to underestimate them in any way from a mental and intensity point of view and there can't be any sense of complacency."

Fitness concerns mean South Africa have not selected all-rounder Sisanda Magala. He is not injured and has performed strongly with the ball for the Lions in recent days, but South Africa do not see him being in the right physical shape to play international cricket.

Bavuma is a Lions club-mate of Magala but indicated the ruthless decision was one that he supported.

Speaking in a news conference on Friday, Bavuma said: "With Magala, he knows he can only point the finger back at himself and obviously as a captain I am disappointed that I don't have him at my disposal – but I think he can accept that it is his own doing."

The South Africa captain added, according to Times Live: "I play with the guy at the Lions, I have a good relationship with the fitness trainer and the communication that I have had is that there is a lot more good he is doing to try to improve his fitness. Unfortunately, at this time he is not at the eligible fitness level."

Bangladesh bidding to bounce back

Bangladesh suffered a seven-wicket loss to Afghanistan in their last ODI, bringing an end to a five-game winning streak in the format. It would be a statement result if they pulled off a win in any of their three games in South Africa, even though the Proteas have lost four of their last six completed men's ODIs in Centurion, including their last two. The Proteas have never lost more than two consecutive games in their 43 all-time fixtures at the venue.

Hosts go all out

A number of South Africa's big names will miss the Test series that follows the ODIs, as they head to the IPL, but the hosts will be fielding their strongest possible side in these limited-overs games. South Africa have scored an average of 300 runs per innings when batting first in men's ODIs since the beginning of 2021, the most of any team to have batted first more than once in that period and 53 runs more than Bangladesh (247).

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