Du Plessis, Tahir and Morris absent as Maharaj makes South Africa's T20 World Cup squad

By Sports Desk September 09, 2021

Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir and Chris Morris have all missed out on selection for South Africa's preliminary T20 World Cup squad but Keshav Maharaj is included despite having yet to make his international debut in the shortest format.

Du Plessis had retired from all other forms of cricket, with an eye on the World Cup, while all-rounder Morris also misses out on a squad where Temba Bavuma has been named captain.

World number-one ranked T20I bowler Tabraiz Shamsi, who has taken 24 wickets at an average of 12.2 in 2021, will operate as the main leg-spinner with veteran Tahir, who last appeared for his country in 2019, left out.

While the Proteas opted to leave out the experienced trio, they will have the likes of Quinton de Kock, David Miller and Aiden Markram to call upon, with Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje the standout pace options.

And Victor Mpitsang, South Africa's convenor of selectors, feels the 15-man squad could challenge in October after crashing out in the group stages of the last T20 World Cup in 2016.

"There is no better time than now for us to bring home the trophy and bring the nation together in a way that only sport can," said Mpitsang. 

"We hope that South Africans will rally behind this team and cheer them all the way to the final."

Maharaj is perhaps the surprise inclusion having never played a T20I and only featuring 14 times in 50-over cricket, taking 19 wickets.

The left-arm off-spinner will captain in the absence of the injured Bavuma as the Proteas face Sri Lanka in a three-match T20I series starting on Friday, a decision supported by Mpitsang.

"Kesh [Maharaj] is an excellent leader," said Mpitsang. "He has the backing of the team and us as a panel. 

"He has more than proven his leadership skills in the Dolphins set up and reinforced our good decision during the ODI series against Sri Lanka which ended on Tuesday.

"His exemplary captaincy is what we believe is in the best interests of the team’s stability during this last international series that the team gets to play ahead of the World Cup."

South Africa start their World Cup campaign against Australia on October 23 before facing West Indies three days later.
 

South Africa squad: Temba Bavuma (c), Keshav Maharaj, Quinton de Kock, Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen

Reserves: George Linde, Andile Phehlukwayo, Lizaad Williams.

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