South Africa’s national cricket team will look to maintain their winning ways in the fourth One Day International (ODI) against Australia at Supersport Park in Centurion on Friday.
It’s another must-win match for the Proteas, who trail 2-1 in the five-match series.
The Proteas would have gained some confidence from the previous match in Potchefstroom, where they recorded a comprehensive 111-run victory over the tourists, to keep the series alive.
Proteas spinner, Keshav Maharaj, is hopeful that they can carry that self-belief into the final two games.
“There has been a lot of excitement, it showed in the change room afterwards, guys connecting in a different sort of format where five losses back-to-back was tough but to see the smiles on guys faces. I don’t think they will take that for granted, you know now that we got a taste hopefully, we can run with that momentum into the next two games. You know we play our best cricket towards the World Cup.”
The five-match series against Australia is South Africa’s last assignment ahead of the World Cup in India in October and November. And apart from the two warm-up games against Afghanistan and New Zealand just before the tournament starts, it’s the last chance for coach Rob Walter to test some combinations.
Maharaj says, “It gives us the opportunity to try out different combinations within the series as we build toward the World Cup and that’s not making excuses for performance. We haven’t been at our best the past two games, we rectified that in the last game. It’s about building momentum because we could be posed with various situations in the World Cup where conditions change to adapt the team. Obviously, we have an amazing squad with a lot of variety so whoever gets called up on the day I am sure they will stand up and take the team over the line.”
Maharaj, who took two scalps in Tuesday night’s game, is lucky to be back in the Proteas set-up in time for the tournament.
The left-arm spinner freakishly ruptured his Achilles tendon while celebrating a wicket during the final Test against the West Indies in March but has made a remarkable recovery.
He will likely play a crucial role for the Proteas, on what is expected to be spin-friendly wickets.
“It’s sub-continent conditions, it’s known for spin bowling but it’s just about believing the process doing the hard work and making sure they are executing and bowling our best ball whatever happens after that is beyond our control. So, it’s about making sure we are topping up on our skill, work and getting better every day.”
The fourth match of the series at Centurion is a day/night encounter and gets under way at 1pm.