Happy we're not playing on this pitch again, but nice feeling to be in final: Markram

Markram was delighted to see South Africa finding a way to win on a challenging strip.
South Africa's captain Aiden Markram walks from the field following his team's nine wicket win over Afghanistan in their men's T20 World Cup semifinal cricket match on June 26, 2024.
South Africa's captain Aiden Markram walks from the field following his team's nine wicket win over Afghanistan in their men's T20 World Cup semifinal cricket match on June 26, 2024.(Photo | PTI)

TAROUBA: South African skipper Aiden Markram was certain that he does not want to play another match on the pitch here, but was chuffed to see his side tame a challenging track in the semifinal to enter its maiden T20 World Cup final.

The deck at the Brian Lara Academy stadium offered considerable movement off the seam and South African quicks used it to the optimum to bowl out Afghanistan for an insufficient 56.

“If we reflect back on this wicket, we'll probably be pretty happy that we're not playing here again. T20 cricket as a whole, you want entertainment,” said Markram in the post-match press meet after SA defeated Afghanistan by nine wickets.

Markram was delighted to see South Africa finding a way to win on a challenging strip.

"The wickets that we've had throughout the competition have been pretty challenging. It's hard to tell that a wicket is not good because it can't just always be a batter's game.

"Having said that, still taking the positives we can. Wickets are tough. So, finding a way to win is probably the most important thing."

South Africa will now travel to Barbados for the final either against India or England.

“We've been doing it for most of our careers, you jump from venue to venue where conditions are quite different. So, it's again just adapting and playing the pitch and the game that's in front of you.

“We'll try to find ways to always take wickets with the ball and from a batting point of view try to get to a score that's defendable. Both teams have to play on the same wicket,” he noted.

But for now, Markram wants to relish the feeling of entering a World Cup title clash.

“The bits that we're realising now, it's obviously a really nice feeling. This team's been together for a long time now as a white ball group, and it's nice for us to get to a final.

“We feel and believe that we can compete with the best in the world and we can win trophies. It's nice for us to now have that opportunity."

The SA captain said winning close games in the group and Super Eights stages of boosted their confidence.

“You do get belief from winning close games and potentially winning games that you thought you weren't going to win.

“It does a lot for your changing room vibe. So, we'll take a little bit of confidence from that and see if we can put it to any use in the final,” he offered.

In a way, South Africa have atoned for all their past failures in global events, but Markram insisted that the past was not a topic in the current dressing room.

“We haven't spoken about it to be honest. I think it's a personal and individual motivation that you get to a final; to earn the opportunity to lift the trophy.

"So, if you reflect back, we couldn't get over the line in that semifinal (in the 50-over World Cup against Australia) and you look at tonight, a few things went our way. We managed to win the game and we found ourselves in the final.”

The 29-year-old patted South African bowlers for making the semifinal a lopsided affair after bowling out Afghanistan for a record low of 56.

“The bowlers, the whole competition, they've been really good. Probably saving the batters on certain occasions. So, you have to give a lot of appreciation towards them.

Markram had led South Africa to the under-19 World Cup title a decade ago, but he was not really banking on that experience here.

“It's a really long time ago and my memory is not great, but you get a little bit of confidence and belief knowing you have done it on a certain level before. There are similar pressures that you have to deal with being in a final,” he added.

Markram was also gracious enough to acknowledge the wonderful run Afghanistan had in this event.

“It's really cool to see. They have some of the best (players) in the world at the moment. So, they're really on a good track. Making a semifinal for them is obviously massive. I think they've inspired a lot of people back at home.

“I've seen some pictures that inspire us as well to try and make that difference to people back at home. I'm sure it's not going to be the end of them making knockout cricket,” he concluded.

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