Australia to play South Africa in World T20 preparations

Sydney, June 5 (IANS) Australia will finalise their preparations for the 2016 World T20 cricket tournament in India with a three-match Twenty20 International series against South Africa in early March.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) on Friday confirmed Australia will visit the rainbow nation ahead of the World T20, the only International Cricket Council (ICC) tournament Australia are yet to win.

The Aaron Finch-led side will head to Durban on March 4, before travelling to Johannesburg two days later and finally Cape Town on March 9.

“The T20 Series against Australia provides for both teams the perfect lead-in to the ICC World Twenty20 which will be played in India immediately afterwards,” Cricket South Africa (CSA) chief executive Haroon Lorgat was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au on Friday.

Between now and the 2016 World T20, Australia have seven scheduled T20 matches against England (1), India (3) and South Africa (3). And while domestic T20 competitions continue to build in popularity, the scarcity of international T20 matches has made team cohesion difficult.

Australia T20 captain Finch admits the lack of matches and lengthy duration between fixtures does make it difficult to form a unified, competitive T20 outfit. But the right-handed batsman is confident his troops can be the first Australian side to win the World T20 crown after five failed attempts.

“When you look at the amount of games we play compared to a few other countries … playing one game a series isn’t really enough to get a team to gel together and a team to really settle on,” Finch said.

“It’s definitely no excuse — we’ve got some outstanding players. But when you don’t have your number one team on the park all the time it probably reflects where our world ranking is (currently third behind reigning World T20 champions Sri Lanka and India, the runners-up in last year’s tournament played in Bangladesh).

“As the captain of the side I’m really looking forward to the World T20 in India. Having reached the final once, I think we are ready to go one step further and win,” he added.

The tour dates:
March 4: 1st T20I, Sahara Stadium Kingsmead, Durban March 6: 2nd T20I, Bidvest Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg March 9: 3rd T20I, Newlands, Cape Town.

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