Proteas will not take Dutch lightly, Maharaj says

Proteas interim captain Keshav Maharaj will be relishing the opportunity to lead the side in their upcoming three-match ODI series against the Netherlands which gets under way on Friday
EVERY POINT COUNTS: Proteas interim captain Keshav Maharaj will be relishing the opportunity to lead the side in their upcoming three-match ODI series against the Netherlands which gets under way on Friday
Image: ISURU SAMEERA PEIRIS/ GALLO IMAGES

Proteas interim captain Keshav Maharaj believes their inbound series against the Netherlands will be important for the side as they look to gain some momentum leading into a bumper summer of cricket over the next few months. 

Speaking in a virtual media conference on Tuesday, Maharaj said no series could  be taken lightly with Super League points up for grabs, regardless of the opponents. 

SA, who have only played nine out of a possible 24 ODIs in the current qualification cycle, find themselves in ninth spot, just one place outside the top eight, where automatic qualification to the tournament, to be hosted in India, is guaranteed.

They kick off their summer with a three-match ODI series against the Netherlands at Centurion on Friday before welcoming India in December.

“We know that there are super league points at stake and we need to qualify for the 2023 World Cup, so every series from now on will be important in terms of getting points and no series can be taken lightly, especially this one,” Maharaj said. 

He said the team’s first practice session on Tuesday was a good gauge in terms of seeing where the players were in terms of their own individual game. 

“A lot of the guys have been playing four-day cricket as well, so in terms of loads and facing balls, it has been very good for them,” he said.

On the return of the likes of Wayne Parnell to the national set-up, he said: “Rubbing shoulders with Parny again after a long time, he is in a good space with his cricket and has been taking a lot of responsibility in his cricket which is good to see,” the left-arm off-spinner said. 

Maharaj said leading the side was something he really enjoyed and he was delighted to be given another opportunity. 

“I am a deep thinker so I feel that helps me on the field in trying to read situations.

“It also helps my game by keeping me calm and trying to look at things from a different perspective, so I am very happy to be handed the opportunity,” he said.

In terms of 50-over cricket, Maharaj feels that despite their slow progress they will be in a much better space come the 2023 World Cup. 

“I think there is a plan for everything and come 2023, we will be the polished article we want to be.”

Asked what the team’s stance would be in terms of their support for antiracism and whether they would take a knee, Maharaj said that discussion was still to happen with the board and the rest of the team. 

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