South African batsmen will experience the best and worst scoring conditions in the United Arab Emirates in the T20 World Cup, according to Aiden Markram. After spending the last four weeks with the Punjab Kings in the UAE for the IPL, Markram has decided that the conditions for hitting are the easiest in Abu Dhabi and the toughest in Sharjah, but still everywhere.
“Each ground was different. That was something I didn’t expect; I thought it would be quite generic. But each ground had its own set of challenges. The pitches weren’t the easiest to bat on, but as the batter gets in he can still take the game away from the opposition. It’s tougher for newer batters coming in. Sharjah was probably the toughest batting wicket out of the three here, and Abu Dhabi was probably the nicest to bat on.” Aiden Markram said.
South Africa opens the Super 12 phase of the competition against Australia in Abu Dhabi before moving to Dubai to play the West Indies. And then to Sharjah and back to Abu Dhabi for two games against the playoffs and closing the group phase against England in Sharjah.
Eight out of nine, including reserve Andile Phehlukwayo, were part of the 50over World Cup 2019, where South Africa had its worst result in a major tournament and was the first team to be eliminated.
Although South Africa enters the tournament after three consecutive victories in the T20I series. Only one of those who faced the West Indies in June. Was against an opponent they will face in that tournament. But this troop is surrounded by ghosts.
“Obviously we’ll try not to make the same mistakes that we did in 2019, but this is a different format and completely different conditions. And we’ve got a completely different side,” Markram said.
“But if conditions on the day don’t allow for that we have to be smarter and have another plan to fall back on. Having the skill set to trust in that change of plan has been important. Over the last 12 to 18 months the team has up-skilled themselves. That’s probably the biggest thing we can take from the 2019 World Cup.”
Markram is one of the best examples of that. Since the 2019 World Cup, he has shown marked improvement against spin.
Aad his best tour of the subcontinent when South Africa toured Pakistan earlier this year. Has established himself in white-ball cricket, and earned his first IPL deal. Which taught him about batting in a different position in the shortest format. “It was a great experience. I was in a less familiar role and it was nice to be exposed. To that at a high standard of cricket and to learn on the job,” Markram said.
Not even the pressure of a tournament like the IPL. Punjab Kings finished sixth on the points table after losing eight games in that half of the competition. They also won three games this half and four of their six games were decided in the last round.
“All of our games were close. We would have liked to have crossed the finish line more often than we did,” said Markram. Suggesting that this experience would be useful before the T20 World Cup.
“He was outstanding today. Both with the bat and ball, his impact was huge. He changed momentum when he went out to bat and swung it completely in our favour. And I think with the ball, he bowled as good as I’ve ever seen him bowl. Which, you know, is saying a lot. The guy is consistently exceptional every time he takes the field and always seems to take big wickets in the game.” Morgan said after the game at the press conference.
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