Proteas stand-in captain Maharaj highlights importance of backing spinners

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Keshav Maharaj (Gallo Images)
Keshav Maharaj (Gallo Images)

Stand-in Proteas captain Keshav Maharaj says it is "crucial" for spinners to be backed after South Africa secured a T20 series whitewash against Sri Lanka in Colombo on Tuesday.

South Africa's bowlers were on song, with Bjorn Fortuin (2/21), Kagiso Rabada (2/23), Aiden Markram (1/4), Wiaan Mulder (1/11) and Maharaj (1/14) restricting the hosts to 120 for eight.

Quinton De Kock (59*) and Reeza Hendricks (56*) then partnered to steer South Africa to a 10-wicket victory to complete the series clean sweep.

"It's crucial for a spinner to be backed," Maharaj told reporters after the match.

"It's often we bowl an over, and we may go for 10 or 12 runs; it’s important that we give them the confidence to come back.

"Bjorn showed that, Shammo's (Tabraiz Shamsi) been exceptional, he might go for runs in his first couple of overs, but he finds a way to come back still go under six runs an over and picks up wickets."

Maharaj added: It's about backing, about giving support. That's what spinners have needed in our country.

"It's good that the coach and selectors have started to back spin more and see the impact that we can make. It's a confidence booster to know you have the backing of the hierarchy in the team.

"It's about adapting on the field and trying to read conditions as soon as possible. I try to identify periods in the game where we can go for the kill.

"Fortunately, the bowlers I've called upon at various stages have stepped up to the plate. I'd like to credit my bowlers. Whenever I've called upon someone, they've picked up wickets or bowled a containing spell."

The 31-year-old was entrusted with the captaincy following Temba Bavuma's thumb injury.

Maharaj has excelled in the position with his tactical approach and timely switching of bowlers when the Proteas are fielding.

"I was very fortunate to be given the opportunity. Temba is the man for the job right now.

"I'm just filling in his shoes and following up where he left off. I'm sure he'll make a speedy recovery and take over the reins.

"He's done a sterling job so far, and everyone is looking forward to having him back with the team."

The Proteas will now return to South African shores before travelling to the United Arab Emirates for the T20 World Cup next month.

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