The Blue Label T20 squad will be buoyed by the Proteas’ 50-over success ahead of the two-match T20I series against Pakistan starting in Dubai on Wednesday. The series is an important marker for the T20I squad, with countdown to the ICC World Twenty20 in full motion.
The squad features three new faces in Henry Davids, Aaron Phangiso and David Wiese, along with players brimming with confidence after the 4-1 win in the ODI series.
“It’s nice for us as a team to go into this series with some momentum behind us,” captain, Faf du Plessis said at the official trophy unveiling and pre-match press conference on Tuesday afternoon. “We understand that it’s a new competition but it always helps going into a tournament with some confidence from beating a side.”
Du Plessis’s troops won their previous T20I series against Sri Lanka 2-1 in difficult sub-continent conditions, and the skipper hope this series will give the players valuable exposure to similar conditions expected for the World T20 in Bangladesh early next year.
“ The World Cup is going to be in the sub-continent so we will have similar conditions so we will be playing a team as close to what we will be playing in the World Cup,” he said.
“In Sri Lanka we started showing some really good signs,” he added. “I think we will stick with the combinations we had in that series going forward. We have a core of 15 players and we are still fiddling with combinations. We want to make sure that by the time the World Cup comes we have settled on the best combinations.”
There are seven matches left to play ahead of the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh in March next year. The Proteas are scheduled to play four matches against Pakistan and three against Australia in South Africa ahead of the event.
The Proteas are ranked fifth on the ICC T20 rankings, three behind the second-placed Pakistan team, who are a formidable force in the T20 format. A series win will lift South Africa to third on the rankings.
“Pakistan are a dangerous T20 team,” Du Plessis said. “They have a lot of match-winners, that’s what T20 cricket is about. They have the danger-men that can come in and score 80 off a few balls or run in and take four quick wickets. We are going to have to play really well to beat them.”