Proteas limited-overs captain Temba Bavuma believes his team can “dominate” their hosts on the upcoming tour to Sri Lanka.
Bavuma and his team departed for the island on Tuesday for three ODIs and as many T20Is, which will all be played at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, starting next week.
South Africa are arguably best equipped for a tour of the subcontinent in their history, with a plethora of spinning options, led by World No 1 T20 bowler Tabraiz Shamsi.
The latter has been nothing short of sensational on the recent tours of West Indies and Ireland across both limited-overs formats. Shamsi will be equally well-supported by fellow left-armer Keshav Maharaj, who has transferred his red-ball skills to white-ball cricket, while George Linde and Bjorn Fortuin will also pose a threat.
This spin metamorphosis is a world apart from the days when the Proteas relied on current fielding coach Justin Ontong to rotate between bowling his part-time off-spin with leg-spin on a previous tour to India.
“I definitely have a lot of confidence in our spinners,” Bavuma said. “[Having] a guy like [Tabraiz] Shamsi who tops the rankings in T20 stuff at the moment, he is flying high on confidence.
“We also have Kesh [Maharaj] as well and we know what a quality player he is.That’s not forgetting guys like Bjorn Fortuin and George Linde in our resources.
“We expect conditions to be in their favour, suiting the spinners, and Sri Lanka are a very strong outfit in their own conditions. So it’s going to be tough and our challenge is to be successful in those conditions. But I believe we can more than just compete, we can dominate in those conditions.”
While there may still be question marks surrounding the pace bowling unit’s ability to consistently close out matches at the death, the Proteas’ biggest concern in the build-up to the T20 World Cup in the UAE in six weeks time is their batting unit.
It is not only the composition of the line-up, in relation to the squad still carrying four openers, but also their ability to post or chase down significant totals. During the West Indies T20 series, they showed they could dominate the Powerplay but allowed the innings to fall away during the middle overs.
This was in complete contrast to the Ireland tour when they suffered early losses upfront before the middle-order had to produce a rescue operation, with valuable runs even required from fast bowler Kagiso Rabada on occasion.
Bavuma has therefore placed the spotlight firmly on the batting unit to find some form in conditions that could be similar to what they will encounter in the UAE.
“Being accustomed to everything about Sri Lanka, the weather, the heat is something we cannot prepare for here in SA. It is ideal for us to be put under that type of pressure, especially our batters.
“If I look at our performances of late, the bowling group has been very good, they have been stretched and have adapted accordingly.
“Now the batters will also be put into that space where they will have their skills tested and will have to adapt accordingly,” Bavuma said.