Left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj earned a surprise call-up in South Africa’s 15-member T20 World Cup squad, to be led by Temba Bavuma, as announced on Thursday, September 9. Faf du Plessis, who last played a T20I in December 2020 was overlooked, so too were Imran Tahir and Chris Morris.
Keshav Maharaj, who has played 36 Tests and 14 ODIs till date, will be one of South Africa’s three specialist spinners, alongside Tabraiz Shamsi and Bjorn Fortuin at the upcoming T20 World Cup in the UAE and Oman.
Temba Bavuma is expected to recover in time to lead the team at the marquee event, after he had to leave the ongoing Sri Lanka tour midway with a finger injury.
"It's the subcontinent and with the IPL being played before the tournament so we know the wickets will take a lot of spin. We have to look at the balance of the squad," selection convenor Victor Mpitsang said in a television broadcast. "There is no better time than now for us to bring home the trophy and bring the nation together in a way that only sport can. We hope that South Africans will rally behind this team and cheer them all the way to the final."
Faf du Plessis, who had announced his retirement from Test cricket in February this year, and hasn’t played a T20I since December 2020, was overlooked. Veteran leg-spinner Imran Tahir and all-rounder Chris Morris were the other notable absentees.
"Faf has got a wonderful record," Mptisang said, "But at the moment, we want to be consistent in selection and this is the group of players we have gone with."
All-rounders George Linde, Andile Phehlukwayo and fast-bowler Lizaad Williams have been named as reserves.
South Africa squad: Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, David Miller, WIaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen.
Reserves: George Linde, Andile Phehlukwayo, Lizaad Williams