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Ireland wicketkeeper-batsman Neil Rock tests positive for COVID-19
Ireland wicketkeeper-batsman Neil Rock tests positive for COVID-19
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Ireland Wicketkeeper-Batsman Neil Rock Tests Covid-19 Positive Prior To South Africa Series

Ireland wicketkeeper-batsman Neil Rock has tested positive for COVID-19. Neil Rock earned his maiden call-up to the Ireland squad for the upcoming T20I series against South Africa.

Following the development, Neil Rock has been placed in isolation while 22-year-old Stephen Doheny, who is also uncapped, has been called up as his replacement.

Neil Rock in action for Northern Knights Getty Images
Neil Rock in action for Northern Knights Getty Images

Ireland Wicketkeeper Batsman Neil Rock Tests Covid-19 Positive

In the 1st T20I, South Africa have rested keeper Quinton de Kock and pacer Anrich Nortje. Janneman Malan will be Aiden Markram’s opening partner and Kyle Verreynne will be donning the keeping gloves. Also, they have picked both their left-arm spinners.

Cricket Ireland confirmed the development and released an official statement which read:“Team management was informed of the positive result today, and Rock has been isolated from the squad as he awaits a follow-up test at the team hotel. Doheny, meanwhile, will undergo a COVID test this afternoon and – given a negative outcome – will join the squad tomorrow.”

Cricket Ireland
Cricket Ireland

The players and support staff who have come in contact with Neil Rock will have to undergo testing as per the protocols in place.

Mark Rausa, Head of Sport Science, Physiotherapy and Medical Services for Cricket Ireland, informed: “Due to our biosecurity measures and contact tracing, we are satisfied that we do not have any genuine close contact cases and this should therefore have minimal impact on the squad.

“However, out of an abundance of caution due to the proximity of the series start, we will test one player and one staff member who had confirmed they spent a short amount of time with Neil with correct COViD safe precautions in place. We expect them to test negative and re-join the squad tomorrow.”

Ireland will be battling against South Africa in the first of the three-match ODI series. This will be the first time the Irish team will play in a bilateral series against the Proteas. The visitors, under the leadership of Temba Bavuma, are coming into this tour on the back of thrashing Windies by 3-2. They won the T20I series there by 2-1.

Ireland, on the other hand, too would be looking to improve their tally of points in the ICC Super League as they have won only two of their nine matches so far.

Ireland Captain Andy Balbrinie: Proteas Will Be Firm Favourites But Ireland Has Match Winners In Team

South Africa’s tour of Ireland will begin with the first match of the ODI series in Dublin on Sunday. Speaking ahead of the series to the media, Ireland captain Andy Balbirnie admitted that the Proteas will be firm favourites. He, however, asserted that Ireland does have match-winners who can make a difference.

Balbirnie said: “A lot of people on the outside will look at this and say there’s only one team winning this series, and that’s fair enough because it’s a really impressive South Africa side. I don’t have to keep harping on about how good a team they are – I think everyone knows there is a big gulf in the teams.”

Andy Balbirnie
Andy Balbirnie Sportsfile/Getty Images.

Balbirnie added: “But we do have match-winners in our team. We showed that last year when we played England. We maybe haven’t got the results we’d want recently, but whenever we’re put in front of a really tough challenge, we tend to come out with something. The guys are going to go out and express themselves and hopefully can come out with a good result.”

The three-match ODI series between Ireland and South Africa will be followed by three T20Is, which will be played from July 20-25.

Andy Balbirnie has said there will be “no excuses” if his Ireland team fails to qualify for the 2023 World Cup, after a slow start to the Super League campaign which will determine whether or not they have to play in a separate qualifying tournament.

Ireland pulled off an upset by beating England in their third Super League game last summer, but have struggled for consistency since then, losing 3-0 to Afghanistan in the UAE and 2-1 against the Netherlands last month, putting a major dent in their chances of automatic qualification.

Teams:

Ireland (Playing XI): Paul Stirling, William Porterfield, Andrew Balbirnie(c), Harry Tector, Mark Adair, George Dockrell, Lorcan Tucker(w), Andy McBrine, Simi Singh, Joshua Little, Craig Young

South Africa (Playing XI): Aiden Markram, Janneman Malan, Temba Bavuma(c), Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne(w), David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi

South Africa have won the toss and have opted to field.

AB de Villiers
AB de Villiers. Image Credits: Twitter
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Absence Of AB de Villiers Diminished South Africa’s Chances To Win 2021 T20I World Cup: Aakash Chopra

Aakash Chopra has said the absence of AB de Villiers has further diminished South Africa’s slim chances of winning the 2021 T20 World Cup.

AB de Villiers recently told Mark Boucher that he would not be playing for South Africa again. The Proteas great’s excellent form for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL 2021 had earlier rekindled hopes of his return to the national setup.

AB de Villiers
AB de Villiers (Image Credit: Twitter)

Aakash Chopra: South Africa’s Chances Of Progressing Would’ve Been Better If AB de Villiers Was There

While responding to a fan question in a video shared on his YouTube channel, Aakash Chopra almost ruled out South Africa as a T20 World Cup contender in the absence of AB de Villiers.

“The chances of their progressing would have been better if AB de Villiers was there but if he is not there, it is impossible to get a player of his quality. The team still has good players but is it a team that can win the World Cup, I personally don’t think so,” said Aakash Chopra.

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

While acknowledging that South Africa can upset a few top-ranked teams, the former India player pointed out that the side might be found wanting on the slightly slower and spin-friendly tracks.

“This team can do well, trouble a few people and spoil other teams’ parties but they might not be able to win the World Cup because wherever it happens, whether in India or the UAE, I have my reservations with regards to their chances to win the tournament in these conditions,” added Aakash Chopra.

While AB de Villiers has ruled himself out, South Africa has also not picked some of their experienced players like Faf du Plessis and Chris Morris for the T20I series against West Indies and Ireland. The Proteas team would be weakened further if such accomplished players are not in their scheme of things for the upcoming T20 World Cup.

Aakash Chopra: South Africa Failed To Win Either T20I Or ODI World Cup Even In AB de Villiers’ Presence

Aakash Chopra also highlighted that some of the best South African sides in the past have failed to win a World Cup.

“The first thing is whether they can win the World Cup is a big question. They did not win when AB de Villiers was there as well. They play well but something happens when they come for an ICC trophy,” said Aakash Chopra.

South African Cricket Team
South African Cricket Team. (Photo Source: Twitter)

While admitting that one can never rule out a team, the 43-year-old signed off by stating that South Africa does not seem to have a side that can go the full distance.

“At this point in time, the team is not that good. Let’s be fair, don’t count them out. They are a good team, they fight but they are also a team that struggles at the end and chokes at times. They don’t really know how to close the big moments. That problem has been there with this team,” observed Aakash Chopra.

South Africa is likely to field a young and rather inexperienced side in the T20 World Cup, with Temba Bavuma at the helm of affairs. It would certainly be a tall ask for them to win their maiden World Cup in unfamiliar conditions. South Africa has never won an ODI or T20I World Cup.

With two T20 World Cups scheduled within a span of one year, South Africa will be keen to see the likes of Janneman Malan, Kyle Verreynne, and Lizaad Williams making a mark in the series.

South Africa Test squad for WI tour

Dean Elgar (C), Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Sarel Erwee, Beuran Hendricks, George Linde, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Keegan Petersen, Marco Jansen, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Prenelen Subrayen, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne, Lizaad Williams

South Africa squad for WI and IRE T20Is

Temba Bavuma (C), Quinton de Kock, Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, George Linde, Sisanda Magala, Janneman Malan, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne, Lizaad Williams, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius.

South Africa squad IRE ODIs

Temba Bavuma (C), Quinton de Kock, Heinrich Klaasen, Sisanda Magala, Keshav Maharaj, Janneman Malan, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne, Lizaad Williams, Andile Phehlukwayo

South Africa
Image Credit: Twitter
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South Africa Vs Australia 2020: 3rd ODI, Potchefstroom – South Africa Complete Whitewash After Smuts Put All-Round Performances

The hosts South Africa whitewashed the visitors Australia after comfortably winning the third and final game of the series by six wickets (with 27 balls remaining) at Potchefstroom.

Coming to bat first in this dead-rubber match after losing the toss, Australia managed to score 254/7 (50 overs). In reply, the hosts lost four wickets but successfully chased down the target in 45.3 overs (258/4).

South Africa: Three Proteas batsmen scored the 50s

South African openers Janneman Malan and captain Quinton de Kock put the 47 runs partnership for the first wicket. While Malan scored 23 runs, de Kock scored 26 runs.

After the dismissals of both the Proteas openers, John John Smuts and Kyle Verreynne built up the 96 runs partnership for the third wicket. Both of them scored half-centuries in that chasing. After Verreynne scored 50 runs (50 balls), Smuts and Heinrich Klaasen built up the 79 runs partnership for the fourth wicket.

South Africa, Smuts
John John Smuts (Image Credit: Twitter)

After scoring 84 runs off 98 balls (12 fours), the Player of the Match Smuts lost his wicket. However, the hosts easily chased down the target as Klaasen remained not out on 68 runs off 63 balls (10 fours and only six).

South Africa
Heinrich Klaasen (Image Credit: Twitter)

Among the Aussie bowlers, only Josh Hazlewood (2/37) managed to pick up more than one wicket in that innings.

South Africa Vs Australia 2020: 3rd ODI, Potchefstroom - South Africa Complete Whitewash After Smuts Put All-Round Performances 1

South Africa Vs Australia 2020: 3rd ODI, Potchefstroom - South Africa Complete Whitewash After Smuts Put All-Round Performances 2

Australia: Marnus Labuschagne scored his maiden ODI century

Australia didn’t get a good start in the first innings. While the opener David Warner was dismissed for just four runs, the skipper and another opener Aaron Finch scored 22 runs, and Steven Smith scored 20 runs.

However, Marnus Labuschagne handled the situation very well and guided to the challenging total with his solid batting performance. Along with D’Arcy Short (36), Labuschagne put 81 runs partnership for the fourth wicket. Then, Labuschagne and Mitchell Marsh (32) built up the 53 runs partnership for the fifth wicket.

At the late of that innings, Labuschagne and Jhye Richardson put the 64 runs partnership for the seventh wicket.

Playing his fifth ODI innings, Labuschagne hit his maiden ODI century and scored 108 off 108 balls (8 fours). Jhye Richardson remained not out on 24 runs off 20 balls.

Marnus Labuschagne
Marnus Labuschagne (Image Credit: Twitter)

Among the South African bowlers, Anrich Nortje (2/35) and  Jon-Jon Smuts (2/42) took two wickets each in that innings.

South Africa Vs Australia 2020: 3rd ODI, Potchefstroom - South Africa Complete Whitewash After Smuts Put All-Round Performances 3

South Africa Vs Australia 2020: 3rd ODI, Potchefstroom - South Africa Complete Whitewash After Smuts Put All-Round Performances 4

Earlier, in this series, South Africa won the first ODI by 74 runs and second ODI by six wickets (with nine balls remaining). Proteas batsman Heinrich Klaasen won the Player of the Series award after scoring 242 runs in three innings (average 242.00).