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Nortje back in South Africa squad for India T20Is; Stubbs earns maiden call-up

Anrich Nortje celebrates a wicket Getty Images

Tristan Stubbs, the second-highest run-scorer in South Africa's domestic T20 challenge, has received his maiden call-up to the national side after being included in the squad to play five T20Is in India in June. Stubbs joins a full-strength South African outfit that includes all the players who missed the Bangladesh Test after opting to go to the IPL instead.

Anrich Nortje, who has not played for South Africa since the T20 World Cup last November, has returned to fitness at the IPL and is part of the squad. Nortje travelled to the IPL in the final stages of his rehabilitation from a persistent hip and back injury which he completed while at the Delhi Capitals. He has since played five matches and taken seven wickets at an average of 25.71.

He will join a six-seam contingent for the India T20Is, which includes left-armer Marco Jansen, who made his debut in Nortje's injury-enforced absence last summer. Jansen has played five Tests and two ODIs for South Africa, but no T20Is. He is also in action at the IPL, has played eight matches for Sunrisers Hyderabad and claimed seven wickets at an average of 39.14. The best performing South African quick at the IPL is Kagiso Rabada, who is third on the wicket-takers' list with 22 wickets at 16.72, while Lungi Ngidi has not played a game.

"This is the Proteas like we have not seen them in a long time," Victor Mpitsang, South Africa's selection convener said. "The injection of the IPL players means that we will have a team that's ready to fire on all cylinders immediately and has vast experience of the conditions that we will be playing in. The country can also join us in a collective sigh of relief at the return of Anrich Nortje, who has been working hard to recover from a frustrating injury. The National Selection Panel and I are really excited to watch our full strength Proteas take on the world's number one T20 team."

With another T20 World Cup on the horizon, South Africa's first-choice group of players is starting to emerge. Wayne Parnell, who has not played a T20I for South Africa since 2017 but made his ODI comeback last season, and Dwaine Pretorius are part of that contingent and will compete for the allrounder role, leaving no room for Wiaan Mulder. Left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin is the only other player from the T20 World Cup squad who has not been retained. Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi are the two frontline spinners in the squad, with Stubbs and Aiden Markram both offering part-time offspin.

Stubbs made it impossible for the national selectors to ignore him after an outstanding run for the Warriors in the domestic T20 competition. He scored 293 runs in seven matches at an average of 48.83 and a strike rate of 183.12, including three fifties. Notably, he smashed 80 off 31 balls in pursuit of a target of 212, which the Warriors eventually fell 20 runs short of, and 65 off 35 balls in a match against the Knights. He was selected as part of the South Africa A squad to tour Zimbabwe earlier this month and was then called up to replace Tymal Mills at the IPL. He played one match for Mumbai Indians where he was out for a duck.

Only two other South Africans at the IPL, Faf du Plessis and Dewald Brevis, have not been considered for the T20I squad. du Plessis retired from Test cricket last year but remains available for national selection in white-ball formats. However, he has not been considered since. He is currently the captain of the Royal Challengers Bangalore and seventh on the IPL run-scorers' list. Brevis shot to stardom at the Under-19 World Cup, where he was the leading run-scorer and was contracted to the Mumbai Indians before he'd even played a first-class match. He has played six matches at the IPL and impressed with 49 off 25 against Punjab Kings but will have to bide his time before a national call-up.

South Africa's batting line-up features familiar names including captain Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Markram, David Miller, Rassie van der Dussen and Heinrich Klaasen. They will travel with coach Mark Boucher, who reaffirmed his commitment to taking the team through to the end of the 2023 World Cup, in line with his contract, after Cricket South Africa dropped disciplinary charges against him last week.

The five-match series will be played from June 9 to 19 in Delhi, Cuttack, Vizag, Rajkot and Bengaluru.

Squad: Temba Bavuma (capt), Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Wayne Parnell, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Tristan Stubbs, Rassie van der Dussen, Marco Jansen