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Keshav Maharaj. Picture: RYAN WILKISKY/BACKPAGE PIX
Keshav Maharaj. Picture: RYAN WILKISKY/BACKPAGE PIX

Proteas stand-in captain Keshav Maharaj believes his charges have the arsenal to take on England in the first one-day international in Durham on Tuesday (2pm). 

Coming off the back of a 2-1 series defeat against India just 48 hours ago, the reigning men’s world champions will have little time to lick their wounds as they face a motivated Proteas outfit. The clash at The Riverside stadium will be the first in a three-match series where both teams will be looking to put one over on their opponents.

However, Maharaj, well aware of the threat they posed, said they were ready for a fierce battle against their English counterparts. 

“The boys are excited and ready to hit the ground running at the start of this ODI series,” Maharaj told a virtual media briefing on Monday. “It has been a while since we played our last ODI game, but it has also been a substantial, lengthy build-up to this series, so the boys will just be happy to be out on the park,” the Dolphins player said.

Maharaj felt confident they had a strong, balanced squad able to put up a good fight in the series. “We haven't done too well in the ODI format of late, but we have been trying various combinations and methods, so hopefully we can find that rhythm to our game now and we can start on a positive note.

“England are coming off quite a bit of cricket, so they are pretty much a more settled team. But having put in the hard work over the past 12 months, I think we are going to see some good performances in this series,” the left-arm spinner said.

The series is not counting towards the World Cup Super League qualification process but Maharaj said that will not detract from wanting to further improve the performances of the team.

“I think it is important for us as an ODI unit to keep playing together. The more you play, the better you get and the more you can work on combinations. They are still international cricket games, so it is enough motivation to play and build towards series and other ICC events that are coming up,” he said.

On his role and captaincy and how he looks to put his stamp on the team, Maharaj said his job was to build on the work already done by regular captain Temba Bavuma.

“It is just to pick up where Temba left off. We know our philosophy and strategy as a unit, so it is about filtering that into the current series. Obviously, on the field, things might differ slightly.”

As they look to add just a second ODI series win in England since SA’s readmission to international cricket, Maharaj said this one presented a golden opportunity for the group of players to write their piece of SA cricket history. 

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