SA aim for balance with one eye on World Cup

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File: Aiden Markram hits the ball for a 6 during game 3 of the International One Day Series between South Africa and Bangladesh at Buffalo Park, East London on 21 October 2017.

File: Aiden Markram hits the ball for a 6 during game 3 of the International One Day Series between South Africa and Bangladesh at Buffalo Park, East London on 21 October 2017.

WEB_PHOTO_ODI_MARKRAM_010218

File: Aiden Markram hits the ball for a 6 during game 3 of the International One Day Series between South Africa and Bangladesh at Buffalo Park, East London on 21 October 2017.

File: Aiden Markram hits the ball for a 6 during game 3 of the International One Day Series between South Africa and Bangladesh at Buffalo Park, East London on 21 October 2017.

JOHANNESBURG - Proteas will be looking to strike the balance between results and a look to the future when they take on India in the first Momentum One-Day International (ODI) at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on Thursday.

The Proteas enter the series with one eye on the ICC Cricket World Cup in England in 18 months, as they look to put together a squad of players that can achieve success at the World showpiece.

SA captain, Faf du Plessis, says although building for the World Cup is a key priority, his squad remains committed to putting in competitive performances throughout the series.

READ: South Africa, India battle for top spot again

“Our mindset has changed,” Du Plessis said at Kingsmead on Wednesday. “ We have always focused on the now. This is the first time that we have taken a small step away from the now and a bigger step towards the future. This is the first time that as captain and coach our conversations are about how we can have a look at more players, personally I have never been involved in a vision like that. We play series to win series but there is a big focus on how we can give a lot of players opportunity. A year-and-a-half from now we want to make sure we have a group of players who have had time in the middle in pressure situations.

“I have always had the belief that you play every game as hard as you can, you do everything you can to win every match,” he added. “ We are a little bit more focused towards the World Cup, and if you say that, you have to give yourself a little bit of an allowance because you won’t always play your best team. When you play strong teams you always want to play your strongest team, but we want to give an opportunity for young guys to come through this series.”

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Aiden Markram looks set to earn his second ODI cap and will come in for the injured AB de Villiers in the line-up. The 23-year-old Test opener made his ODI debut against Bangladesh in October last year, and is a bright prospect who has been earmarked for the future. 

“We will be giving Aiden an opportunity to come in for the injured AB de Villiers,” Du Plessis said. “ We want him to bat in different places in our batting order, that is a great way for players to evolve their game and to bat in different situations in one-day cricket. That will be a nice learning curve for him and hopefully he will score good runs for us.” 

READ: De Villiers ruled out of opening ODIs against India

The players have managed to make the mental adjustment following the recently concluded Test series, with the focus shifting to the fast-paced high-intensity format. Tickets for the match have been sold out a week in advance, with the Durban fans having the first opportunity to witness the two best ODI teams in the world.

“It is challenging mentally,” the captain said of the change of formats. “ I felt yesterday after training for the first time, we could feel that mentally we were drained, which was the side-effects of a powerful Test series with a lot of pressure. I assume once we get into one-day mode, mentally we will make that switch again. We have played a lot of one-day cricket, even India is used to travelling and playing a lot, once we get into it will be better.”