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Controversies are passe; we are family, asserts SA all-rounder Pretorius

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Abu Dhabi, Nov 2 (IANS) South African all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius is amazed that the team has managed to pull through all the controversies in this edition of the ICC T20 World Cup and are strong contenders for a last-four berth in the showpiece event.

As the Proteas prepare to take on Bangladesh — a side languishing at the bottom in the ‘Super 12s’ — Pretorius said, “What astonishes me is how this team has stuck together. Doesn’t really matter what controversy has come out… If you think about when this group of, let’s say, 20 players got together, it’s been a few months now. So the guys are, really it’s cliche, but we’re really forming a family. And that’s probably one of the biggest advantages we have when it comes to COVID and bubble life.”

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South Africa have weathered the Quinton de Kock controversy over his stance on ‘Black Lives Matter’, which threatened to crush the team. But the way the players pulled together after de Kock pulled out minutes before the match against the West Indies due to ‘personal reasons’, has given hope that the team has moved on from the episode.

Speaking on the incident, Pretorius added that it had made the side realise “how much it actually means to each other to be playing for your country”.

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With de Kock back in the fold, the Proteas can look to consolidate their top-two position in Group 1 if they win against Bangladesh later on Tuesday.

South Africa recovered from an opening-game loss to Australia to post hard-fought wins against West Indies and Sri Lanka. With just one more game to play after this one, a win is essential for them to stay in touch with a top-two spot.

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Pretorius will be key to their hopes of making the grade, with the South African all-rounder having a very specific role in the team. Coming in to bowl in the second half of the innings, he has been successful in cleaning up the middle and lower order. His variations of pace, and tendency to bowl full and wide on surfaces that keep low make him effective. Against both West Indies and Sri Lanka, he finished with an identical 3/17.

Bangladesh, meanwhile, are looking for their first points in the group, having lost close games to Sri Lanka and West Indies, and been brushed aside by England.

Bangladesh’s campaign has faltered on several counts. They haven’t been able to hit out in the powerplay, the large ground sizes haven’t helped them clear the boundaries as regularly as they would have liked, and their catching has let them down.

To compound things further, they have lost Shakib Al Hasan, the No.1 all-rounder on the ICC T20I Rankings, to injury.

While they are almost out of the reckoning for a place in the semifinals, they will be desperate to make a statement before bowing out.

“Obviously morale has been low after those particular losses knowing that our chance in the World Cup are probably over,” said Bangladesh coach Russell Domingo. “But we’ll be ready to play. Mentally the guys will be up for it and know it’s an important phase of the competition. Still two games to go. And guys are really determined to put in a good performance.”

SA Possible XI: Temba Bavuma (capt), Quinton de Kock (wk), Reeza Hendricks, Aiden Markam, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Keshav Maharaj, Anrich Nortje, Tabraiz Shamsi.

Bangladesh Possible XI: Mohammad Naim, Liton Das (wk), Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah (capt), Afif Hossain, Soumya Sarkar, Mahedi Hasan, Shoriful Islam, Shamim Hossain/Nasum Ahmed, Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman.

–IANS

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