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Markram stresses on importance of winning 'close moments'

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Last updated on 28 Jun 2024 | 07:43 PM
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Markram stresses on importance of winning 'close moments'

The Proteas will play their first-ever World Cup final on June 29 (Saturday), against India India in Barbados

South Africa have won plenty of close games in the T20 World Cup 2024, including three games they won by single-digit numbers. Skipper Aiden Markram believes that his team won the close moments in such games, which has spurred South Africa on to believe that they can win from any position.

"I think there's been close moments in games that would have probably affected the result and we managed to win those moments," Markram said ahead of the final against India

"To have done them two, three, maybe four times throughout the competition so far has sort of given the team the belief that you can win from any position, which I think is quite important for a team to have that. We've been together now for quite a few years as a squad, as a white-ball squad, and guys finally really understanding their roles within the team and I think that's starting to help us win those like small margins and those knife-edge moments."

Markram has no shame in admitting that it is their bowlers who have won most of the games for them, covering up for the batters' underwhelming performance in the tournament. Markram himself is yet to click, with the likes of David Miller, Reeza Hendricks, and Heinrich Klaasen yet to hit the ground running.

"It's been tough as a batter. But I suppose either way, as a captain, whether it's batting or bowling friendly if your unit that's putting performances in for you to get the wins, or if they're doing their job like they have been, you're pretty happy as a captain," Markram, who has scored 119 runs at 17 in the tournament so far, said. 

"So, I suppose it's been nice for the bowlers. I think T20 cricket as a whole throughout the world now has pretty much been a batter-friendly game. So, I guess it's been nice to see for the bowlers and something nice for the bowlers to work with. But from a batting point of view, it's been pretty challenging."

South Africa have suffered many heartbreaks in the past, with the most recent one coming in the 2023 ODI World Cup, where they crashed out in the semi-final. That was the case in 2015 as well as they went down to New Zealand in the marquee event Down Under.

Markram is excited about making the past players who have been on this ride proud. "There's been a lot of support back home or from back home past players, which is special for us as a group," the skipper said. 

"They are the guys that inspired us when we were younger and to now be firstly making them proud but also having their support obviously means a hell of a lot to us as a team. I don't see it as me that got us into this position at all. 

"It's been a squad effort and a squad that's been together for a few years now that's been on a journey and the journey has now finally got us here to our first final, which is a proud and special feeling not just for me but for everyone involved in the squad and to have an opportunity to win our first trophy, you have to be in a final to have that opportunity and to at least be involved in that tomorrow is a massive achievement for us."

Virat Kohli has not had a great tournament, and he will hope to make amends in the final. Does that worry Markram?

"I don't think it worries me. He's a great player, as we all know. But they've got their whole batting units full of great players. And cricket's a game of ups and downs. You're not always going to do well, especially as a batter. So, we just do our planning, do our preparation from a meetings point of view for planning towards those batters and hopefully on the day we can get that right," Markram said.

Markram also hopes that the SA20 will give South African players the same exposure as the Indian Premier League (IPL) has given its players.

"SA20 has been fantastic for cricket in South Africa. I feel we've seen what the IPL has done for cricket in India from an exposure point of view for players, and ideally, SA20 is going to get to a similar sort of vibe, or it's going to achieve the same thing for cricket in South Africa, hopefully," Markram said. 

"So, it has been great. I think we've seen now quite a few more South Africans are getting picked up around the world in various leagues. So, yeah, you'd like to think that SA20 is going to play a big role moving forward, but already, in its two years of existence, it has played a pretty big role."

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