Take two Temba Bavuma T20 innings at Johannesburg.
Wednesday, the South African captain will take to the Allan Border Field in Brisbane in search of form, confidence, and a chance to alleviate pressure on himself and the national selection committee ahead of the T20 World Cup. On Monday, the Proteas play their first match of the tournament against opponents who have not yet been determined.
Wednesday’s match against Bangladesh is Bavuma’s last chance to silence speculation regarding his starting position. The 32-year-total old’s of 11 runs in four innings in India, including two ducks, has thrust him into the limelight.
As captain, Bavuma will be granted additional time to find his footing. However, with Reeza Hendricks and Rilee Rossouw in better form and ready to deliver the requisite aggressiveness at the top of the order, Bavuma will be aware that another failure on Wednesday will increase the buzz about his omission for the match on Monday.
Victor Mpitsang and his selection panel, which includes outgoing coach Mark Boucher, would be courageous to leave Bavuma on the bench, but with only five group matches remaining to ensure qualification for the semifinals, there is very little room for error.
The team has publicly endorsed Bavuma, with Boucher stating that he will be treated with the respect a captain deserves and Maharaj stating that Bavuma is “building up beautifully” for the tournament after Monday’s encounter against New Zealand. Bavuma was given additional time to recover from the sickness that caused him to miss the last two One-Day Internationals in India.
Now, however, the South African captain has nowhere left to hide.
The troubles of the Proteas are insignificant as compared to Bangladesh. After defeating New Zealand and Australia on home soil, it is difficult to believe that the Tigers entered last year’s competition with realistic expectations of reaching the semifinals. However, both victories were accomplished on terrible surfaces at Mirpur. The confidence Bangladesh received from those victories proved to be an illusion, as they went on to lose all of their Super 12 matches in the UAE.
This time, they are in dismal condition heading into the event. They have won only four of sixteen T20 Internationals this year, have removed Russell Domingo as coach of the T20 team, and recently lost all four matches in a tri-series event against Pakistan and the Black Caps in New Zealand.
Some consider this as a positive, given that the Bangladeshi players have been exposed to World Cup-like conditions and have faced formidable opponents. On Monday, however, they were defeated by Afghanistan in a warm-up match, scoring only 98/9 in response to Afghanistan’s 160/7.
Wednesday’s game begins at 10 a.m.