Keshav Maharaj in, Faf du Plessis rested for South Africa’s ODIs against Australia

Keshav Maharaj, South Africa’s premier Test spinner, has been included in the ODI squad to face Australia in a three-match series which starts on Saturday. Maharaj, who has four ODI caps to his name, is currently the joint-leading wicket-taker in the domestic one-day competition and will be pushing Tabraiz Shamsi for a spot from in the white-ball XI. Maharaj last played ODI cricket in 2018, when he was part of South Africa’s squad to Sri Lanka.

Faf du Plessis, Rassie van der Dussen and Dwaine Pretorius have been rested for the series with Lutho Sipamla, Janneman Malan and Kyle Verreynne included. Neither 19-year-old Thando Ntini, who shares top spot on the bowling charts with Maharaj, nor Zubayr Hamza, who leads the batting list with 525 runs at 75.00, have been considered. Temba Bavuma, who is currently nursing a hamstring injury is sitting out the deciding T20I against Australia, and Heinrich Klaasen, who has recovered from a hip injury to play at Newlands on Wednesday, have both been included.

That means South Africa go into the series light on batting experience, with David Miller the senior man in the line-up but with several bowling options. Kagiso Rabada, who has rested for the entire white-ball leg of the England series, leads the attack with Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Beuran Hendricks and Sipamla making up the rest of the pace pack. Andile Phehlukwayo is the lone seam-bowling allrounder and there are three spin options in Maharaj, Shamsi and Jon-Jon Smuts.

The squad is very much an experimental outfit, focused on providing opportunities for consistent domestic performers and one eye on the 2023 World Cup. “With the completion of the 2019 Cricket World Cup and the next one being three years away from now, we always saw the series against England and Australia as an opportunity to play some fresh talent,” Mark Boucher, South Africa’s coach, said. ‘”If we feel that we need to rest players, we will, as we have done in the recent past. Faf has been fantastic for us in white-ball cricket and remains very much in our ODI plans and we will manage his workload for the near future diligently.”

South Africa play three more ODIs before their international season ends, in India and then have an extended break for most of April and May. They come out of that with a limited-overs series in Sri Lanka, and two Tests and five T20s in West Indies, in preparation for the T20 World Cup. There is also talk of three T20Is being played in Pakistan when the schedule allows.