The coach of the South African limited overs cricket team, Rob Walter, and the medical staff are still assessing the injury of captain Themba Bavuma ahead of their ICC Cricket World Cup semi-final clash against Australia in Kolkata on Thursday.
Bavuma is a doubtful starter for the semi-final clash after sustaining a hamstring injury in their final league match against Afghanistan last Friday. Bavuma apparently batted and ran for more than an hour without real discomfort during the training session on Monday.
The captain has already missed World Cup matches against England and Bangladesh due to illness. Coach Rob Walter says they will assess him further in the next few days to see if he is fit to play on Thursday against Australia.
“It’s a process and yesterday it was a step in the process of declaring him fit, we didn’t do high-speed running we didn’t do fielding or running between the wickets we still have to factor those into preparations which is all a progression that has happened to the rehab that has happened in the last 72 hours, we will test if he is ready and match fit and yesterday we ticked that box,”
If fit, Walter backs Bavuma to play against Australia despite a lack of runs in the tournament. He’s been one of South Africa’s best batsmen in the 50-over game this year and is close to rediscovering that form again.
Spin will play a massive role in the match that will be played in spin-friendly conditions at Eden Gardens. Australia will count on their star bowler and one of their top wicket-takers in the tournament, Adama Zampa, to torment the Proteas, but Walter says they have plans up their sleeves for him.
“He is up there with the top wicket-takers in the tournament but we have played well against him both in South Africa and in the first game he is a threat because he is a great international bowler so we have confidence in the fact that we have played well against him I am excited because the wicket will turn a bit, it will put our spin play in the spotlight and we have done really well,”
South Africa also have a spinner in their arsenal, Keshav Maharaj, who can turn a match on its head when firing on all cylinders.
“Kesh has been unbelievable, he is an artist really and great skills executions in the World Cup in different conditions, he has done his role. He is a very important cog in our wheel very clear on what his specific roles are during the game and how he gets used,”
The Proteas have been accused of being chokers when the going gets tough in previous World Cup tournaments, but Walter says they will not necessarily focus on the mental aspect against Australia.
“It’s not a deliberate focus on the mental focus of the game but we will try to stick to the process that brought us good cricket and success so far whether that’s a conversation with the batting group or individuals or thinking point of view that is happening, but you will not change techniques significantly in the tournament it won’t happen,”
Rain is forecast for Kolkata on Thursday and Friday. The Proteas have also been negatively affected by rain in previous World Cups, but Walter is not overly concerned.
“Fortunately, they have put a massive DLS score on the scoreboard, these days so it’s hard to get it wrong but in truth it’s just an awareness of the weather. I don’t think you can prepare for it because it is an inconsistent factor, we must have our ducks in a row,”
The Proteas will be looking to reach the World Cup final for the first time in history on Thursday.