Proteas wary of Stokes’ ‘X factor’ in World Cup clash

South Africa are in for a batting paradise when they take on old rivals England at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday, with both sides needing to bounce back from surprise defeats in their last Cricket World Cup pool matches.

England lost to Afghanistan by 69 runs and South Africa were beaten by the Netherlands to end their excellent start to the tournament. Both will be eager to get back into the swing of things on what is traditionally a good strike pass.

“Guys who have played here before have talked about how it can be a hitter’s paradise. You get value for your shots and the ball seems to travel further,” South Africa captain Temba Bavuma told reporters on Friday.

“It can build a lot of confidence. And if it’s your day, you can fill your shoes.”

Both teams have excellent scorers in the top six, with the return of Ben Stokes from injury a big plus for England.

“He is an x-factor player,” Bavuma said. “He’s a guy who can change the course of a game and he’s someone we’ve been watching in our preparations. We know we’re going to have to be on top of our game to get him out.”

South Africa were poor at the end of their bowling against the Netherlands and then made a shaky start with the bat as they succumbed to a 38-run defeat.

“We had tough conversations as a team and where things went wrong for us batting, bowling and fielding. We put that behind us,” Bavuma said.

“We’re also aware of the fact that we’ve played a lot of good cricket in the last few months. So we can’t overlook that and let one ‘blip’ in our game override everything we’ve done.

“It’s easy to second guess yourself, your processes and your game, so we mustn’t forget all the good work we’ve done.”

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