By Ross Roche
The South African cricket team arrived in East London late last night to much fanfare for the eagerly anticipated third one-day international between them and Bangladesh at Buffalo Park on today.
Proteas captain, Faf du Plessis, said that they were happy to be back in the city after a three-and-a half-year break and were looking forward to the game.
“It’s always great being back in East London,” said Du Plessis.
“It is a beautiful coastal city and the crowd and atmosphere is second to none.
“We don’t always get to play here so we hope the fans will be out in their numbers supporting the team.”
The last time the Proteas were in East London they comfortably beat the West Indies by nine wickets in a dominant performance and, coming into the third one-day with the series already sealed, they will be looking to claim a clean sweep.
“We have enjoyed a lot of success at Buffalo Park in the past and hopefully we can produce another dominating performance,” said Du Plessis.
“We beat the West Indies convincingly the last time we played here in 2015, so we will take a lot of confidence and comfort from our past performances here.
“Buffalo Park is normally quite a slow wicket, so spin could play a big role judging from past experiences,” he said.
“We will need to adapt as quickly as possible on the day and assess the type of style of play that will bring us success in those particular conditions.”
The first two one-dayers played in Kimberley and Paarl over the past week saw the Proteas put in immense performances to thump Bangladesh by 10 wickets and 104 runs respectively.
They will want to keep the momentum going, with the T20 international series against Bangladesh to follow next week.
“I’ve been incredibly happy with the way the team have performed in the first two ODIs,” said Du Plessis.
“I asked for a dominating performance and the players have stood up to the challenge.
“We have continued to improve on our skills and execution of our game plans. That has been pleasing to see, and hopefully we can put in another good performance to finish the series.”
A few changes could be on the cards for the match, with a number of youngsters in the wings who could find themselves getting some game time.
In-form opener Hashim Amla will be rested for the match, with recent Test debutant Aiden Markram brought into the squad as his replacement, and he could now make his ODI debut.
However, Temba Bavuma and teenage sensation Wiaan Mulder are the other two players in the squad who have yet to get a start, and they could also be in line to get on the field.
“We have rested Hashim for the final match and we will sit down with the selectors to see how to pick the best XI to win on the day,” said Du Plessis.
Bangladesh will be fired up to redeem themselves after their poor performances so far on the South African tour, and they will looking to break the four-match losing streak, which includes the Tests, against the hosts, so as to take some momentum into the upcoming T20 series.
“Bangladesh haven’t played their best cricket on this tour so they will be hungry to improve on their performances,” said Du Plessis.
“We have been good at focusing on our processes and haven’t been too focused on the opposition.
“I would like to see us continue with our dominating performances and continue to improve with the way that we implement our skills and execute our game plans.”
Tickets for the match are available from the ticket office at Buffalo Park Cricket Stadium between 9am and 4.30pm today and from 9am to 4pm tomorrow as well as from Ticketpros at www.ticketpro.co.za.
Ground entry for adults costs R150 and R80 for scholars, pensioners and students.
Limited grandstand tickets can be bought for R200, only from the ground, and supporters club tickets are also available for R550.
If tickets are still available on Sunday, they can be bought and collected from the Osner Hotel, as the Buffalo Park ticket office will be closed on the day of the match.
The match gets under way at 10am on Sunday morning.