They didn’t want to waste time before their big showdown with the world champions England on the Wankhede Stadiumcaptain Temba Bavuma and 10 other colleagues, including support staff, hit the grid on Thursday afternoon.
David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Marco Jansen a Quinton de Kock decided to skip optional networks.
With the sounds of drilling and welding, thanks to last-minute preparations at the venue, piercing the air and joining the sharp echoes of bats meeting leather in an empty stadium, Heinrich Klaasen, captain Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen and all-rounder Gerald Coetzee made the most of their outing and practiced hitting from distance against net bowlers and drop specialists. Fast bowler Kagiso Rabada ran in and threw a few quick ones.
Coetzee, given that he bats at the bottom of the middle order, has been given a fair dose of length bowling where he has been told to turn off the sides with an imaginary field. In between, a couple drilled through the visor.
The player who caught the eye was Klaasen. One of the leading shooters South Africa in 2023, with 616 runs in 14 matches, the aggressive batsman was unlucky to be dismissed at Dharamsala off a short ball that he hit straight to fine leg. On Thursday, Klaasen, 32, came out playing reverse sweeps and absolutely sniping some long drives into the deep mid-wicket of the stands deep into the crease. Knowing he would be up against the leggy Adil Rashid, he trained mainly against leg spin.
The South African team management has asked for more bowlers to bowl to their batting. But the dozen or so net pitchers on the show were mostly average, except for three of them.
White-ball batting coach and former South African all-rounder JP Duminy had a lengthy one-on-one session with Bavum and was seen encouraging the skipper to maintain his batting form.
Outside the net area, Bavuma practiced some long balls and some turnovers.
South Africa and England played one of the best matches ever in the 2016 T20 World Cup at the Wankhede as the Proteas saw England chase down 229 with two balls to spare.
It could happen again when the game is played on real, red ground and a fresh pitch with enticing short boundaries.
Newspaper column inches on sports pages and airtime on sports networks at home focused heavily on the Springboks who will be playing rugby. World Cup semi-final also against England, later in the evening. The Proteans will want to focus on themselves again.
A comprehensive win against the reigning champions and knocking them out should be enough for that.
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