Temba Bavuma Photograph:( AFP )
South Africa will face Australia in the first match of the Super-12 stage on Saturday afternoon (October 23).
Temba Bavuma, South Africa's captain, said that matches against Australia have always been full of fire for his side and that they would have a tough challenge in the T20 World Cup on Saturday. He went on to say that because Saturday's encounter at Sheikh Zayed Stadium is their tournament opener, they are eager to get off to a good start and get an early advantage.
In the pre-match press conference on Friday, Bavuma remarked, "Matches or clashes against Australia have always been full of fire, and we don't expect it to be anything different tomorrow. Tomorrow being an opener for us, it's obviously a big game. We want to start off well. We want to hit the ground running and start to get that momentum rolling in our favour. But the guys, I believe, are in a good space."
"I must be honest, there is a bit of anxiety amongst the guys, there is a bit of butterflies, and I think that's something that's expected. In terms of coming up against Australia, there's no motivation, no bigger motivation for the guys," added Bavuma.
Bavuma and left-arm wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi have both confirmed their availability for Saturday's opener. "On my side, the fitness is good. I obviously managed to get through the two games unscathed. The hand held up nicely, so I'm all good to go. Shamsi as well, I understand that he's also good to go. He did pass his fitness test today. So he`s good. I`m good as well."
South Africa's batting, particularly the middle order, according to Bavuma, must put up a strong fight against Australia's bowlers. He also stated that his bowlers will want to dismiss the Australian top-order as fast as possible.
"Obviously, their bowling attack is quite strong. I think having played them in the past, their type of team they look to strike upfront, really try to get into that middle-order. So I think from our point of view with the bat, we want to make sure we play there powerful as well as we can so we don't allow them to kind of get into our middle-order with their slow bowlers."
"With the bat, I think they're quite top-heavy. Guys like Finch, guys like Warner, Smith at the top. So we're also obviously looking to strike upfront and put their middle batters under pressure. The earlier we can get those guys in, I feel the more we can put them under pressure. But I think their side, they've got good resources, fast bowling, slow bowling, as well as from a batting point of view. So I think it will be a good encounter."
The 31-year-old had slow innings in the warm-up matches against Afghanistan and Pakistan, batting 31 off 39 balls and 46 off 42 balls, respectively, after recovering from a thumb fracture sustained during the white-ball series against Sri Lanka.
When asked about it, Bavuma replied, "I think from my side, not having played cricket for quite a while, that probably contributed to that. I think it was also adjusting to the conditions and I guess trying to formulate a game plan that was also part of that. I think probably being out of the game for quite a while, that was probably the main contributor."
Talking about the importance of starting off big tournaments on a winning note, Bavuma remarked, "It's always good to start off well. You want to throw that first punch in early on and try to ride with that momentum as much as you can. I think the way the tournament is also set up with only five games in the group stages, you don't really have time to be behind the eight ball. We`ll be looking to really hit the ground running. Tomorrow (we will) play our best cricket and take it from there."