IPL: Kwena now has opportunity to showcase skills at 'biggest tournament on the planet', says Allan Donald

New Delhi, March 21 (IANS) A day after South Africa fast bowler Kwena Maphaka was drafted in by five-time IPL champions Mumbai Indians as a replacement for injured Sri Lanka pacer Dilshan Madushanka, the legendary Allan Donald feels the 17-year-old has a golden opportunity to showcase his talent at the ‘biggest tournament on the planet’.

Maphaka, the left-arm pacer, caught everyone’s eye in the 2024 Under-19 World Cup in South Africa this year, taking the hosts’ to the semi-finals and was adjudged as Player of the Tournament with 21 wickets from six games at an average of 9.71 and economy rate of 3.81.

Maphaka had been reported to join MI as a support bowler for IPL 2024 after a few matches for his domestic side Lions, where Donald now works as a bowling coach, in the CSA T20 Challenge. But Madushanka’s hamstring injury meant he will now spend IPL 2024 with MI as a squad member.

“Kwena has the opportunity now to showcase his skills at the biggest tournament on the planet, and we all wish him well and want him to succeed. This kid has got the talent and the skill to play first up and is the sort of guy that you will have in the IPL and back him to be in your starting lineup.”

“The experience he will gain by being surrounded by top players, coaches and friends is unmatched – even just from being in the changerooms. We wish all our Pride members well in this IPL,” said Donald in a statement issued by the Lions.

Maphaka is currently in his final year of schooling at St Stithians College in Johannesburg, which is also the alma-mater of South Africa’s pace spearhead Kagiso Rabada. The duo are also together at Lions in South Africa domestic circuit.

“When I first saw KG Rabada, I thought to myself “Wow, this guy really is cut out for the big stuff”… you just know that a guy like that is built for the big show. The same can be said for Kwena: There is no doubt that his skill is exceptional, but the most impressive thing is his surety about not only himself but about what he is going to do.”

“I think a great example of that was the other night when he defended 11 off the Super Over and bowled intelligently, backed his best ball which in that pressure situation was the yorker – and got the job done. I think that the DP World Lions will miss him – no question – but his absence marks an opportunity for someone else to stand up,” added Donald.

Head coach Russell Domingo echoed the views of Donald by saying a deal with MI is a fantastic opportunity for young Maphaka, who has already represented South Africa ‘A’ and Emerging Teams. “It’s an incredible opportunity for Kwena to play with and against some of the best players in the world, in the biggest tournament of the world.”

“The whole entire Lions Cricket eco-system can be exceptionally proud of this Pride member – a locally developed player who has come through the schooling system and has been well looked after by the coaching fraternity.”

“He certainly will be missed in my particular team – he has done an amazing job for us bowling up front, getting early wickets and then also bowling really well at the death. But it’s a fantastic opportunity for Kwena at Mumbai Indians – he will be in a good system there, good coaches around him, a winning franchise so we certainly do wish him the very best!”

Mumbai Indians will kickstart their IPL 2024 campaign under their new captain Hardik Pandya against Gujarat Titans – the fast-bowling all-rounder’s previous franchise – at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Sunday.



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