'I'm going to feel 21 again' – Temba Bavuma awaits dream T20I debut

Having established himself as a red-ball player over the years, South Africa batsman Temba Bavuma said he was “surprised” by his call-up to the T20I side to play India later this week.

In a post World Cup shake-up, South Africa had made a number of changes to their squad for this tour, including appointing Quinton de Kock as captain, keeping next year’s T20 World Cup in mind. Bavuma, who will function as Faf du Plessis’ deputy when the Test series begins on October 2, is extremely keen to showcase his white-ball credentials as well.

“I was surprised to be honest,” he said at a press conference in Dharamsala. “Back home there’s a perception that I’m a red-ball player. I knew at the back of my mind that white-ball cricket was something I wanted to play. Fortunately from my good performances in the past season this opportunity has come. It has come a bit earlier than I thought. I’m here now and I’d like to do the most I can.

“I’m 29 at the moment. I’m sure when I get the debut I’m going to feel I’m 21 again. I think it’s just another opportunity to contribute to the team’s winning cause.”

Bavuma’s selection has come as a result of his recent success in domestic T20s. Since the start of 2018, he has made 491 runs in 19 games. Although he had a poor run in in the Mzansi Super League, where he made just five runs in three innings, he finished the third highest scorer in the CSA T20 challenge earlier this year with 326 runs at an average of 46.57. His maiden T20 hundred came in the final, where he led Lions to a win against Warriors.

“Last year I made a conscious effort to improve my white-ball game,” Bavuma said. “I tried to play as many as T20 games as I could in amateur cricket and all the other competitions there. Even in our domestic cricket. And these were the goals that I set. Things that I wanted to achieve and not what other people are saying. You only want to be listening to the voice between your ears as an international player and not all the noise out there.”

He also said he wasn’t bogged down by the perception that he was only suited for the longer formats. “As a player you are put through a lot of challenges. There’s lot of pressure as an international player. People are quick to label you as certain type of player and that could be a good and a bad thing. Proving people wrong is always an extra bit of motivation.”

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