By Bongani Dlamini
Proteas bowler Keshav Maharaj described this week as one of the toughest weeks they have ever had to face as a team in light of the ‘take the knee’ saga involving Quinton de Kock. de Kock has since issued a statement to apologise to his teammates and South African fans.
Maharaj was speaking ahead of the Proteas’ third match at the T20 World Cup against Sri Lanka on Saturday at 12:00 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
“It’s obviously been a tough week, but I think the boys are mature enough and adult enough to sort of adapt to the situation. I think the spirits were really high at training today. There’s that buzz and that drive that’s back into the team after quite a long two days. But yeah, I think the boys are in good stead, and our focus is back on the cricket for now.”
The controversy was expected to unsettle the players, but it proved to be not the case as the Proteas picked up their first victory of the tournament by beating West Indies and the 31-year old insists the saga made them even stronger as a team.
“I think we drew a lot of inspiration from the way we’ve reacted in the past to various situations thrown at us, and I think this has just made us bond and gel even stronger. You’ll probably see a lot more energy than you have seen in these last two games, which it’s hard to believe in terms of topping up, especially the way we started.
“I think it has brought us together. Like I said previously, the boys are mature enough and adult enough to handle situations and will use that to exude more energy on the field and through performance, as well,” added Maharaj.
Onto matters on the pitch, Maharaj warned his teammates that they will have to be at their best to beat a Sri Lankan team that is in form ahead of the match on Saturday.
“I think they’re a side in form at the moment. You’ve seen they’ve played some really good cricket. The batters are scoring runs. The bowlers, they have some really good spinners and fast bowlers at the moment who are bowling really quickly, as well.
“We’re going to have to do our homework and not take any situation for granted. This is a World Cup and teams find a way of stepping up, so hopefully we’ve done our homework and we’ve trained accordingly to combat the Sri Lankan team tomorrow.”
Maharaj got two wickets in the last game and he will be hoping to add to that number.
Experience ball-by-ball commentary when South Africa take on Sri Lanka on Saturday 30 October at 12:00 live on Radio 2000, RSG, Umhlobo Wenene & SABC Sport Social Media pages.