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Markram warns US ‘not a small team anymore’

South Africa captain Aiden Markram warned his side against underestimating the United States ahead of their T20 World Cup showdown, claiming the Americans are “not a small team anymore”.

Co-hosts from the US stunned the sport by beating former champions and Asian powerhouse Pakistan in the group stage of the first round, a result that helped the Americans into the second stage of the elite Super Eights.

“They’ve been really good. A lot of people will say ‘smaller nation,’ but they’re not, and they’ve proven that they’re not anymore,” Markram said.

“So we’ll have to be 100 percent at our best to make everything go well, but I’m excited about that challenge.”

With twelve of the original twenty countries eliminated, the United States heads into the Super Eights with a wave of confidence.

Two-time winners West Indies and defending champions England complete their second round group.

India, Australia, Afghanistan and Bangladesh form the other pole.

South Africa ended their opening group campaign with a perfect four wins in four matches, but they were lucky to maintain a 100 percent record.

After bowling out Sri Lanka for just 77 and completing a six-wicket win, the Proteas found themselves four wickets behind the Netherlands in pursuit of just 104. At one point they were tottering at 12-4.

They then squeezed past Bangladesh by just four runs before avoiding a seismic shock by breaking Nepal’s hearts in a razor-thin one-run win.

Like many sides, the South Africans struggled for points in the three games they played in New York.

But even in the more batsman-friendly environment of the Caribbean, they could only muster 115 against Nepal, their best total yet.

Only David Miller, with 101 runs over four innings, has managed to break into three figures for the tournament.

He is the only South African in the top twenty run-getters.

Opener Quinton de Kock, his country’s all-time top scorer in this format with 2,389 runs, has just 48 in this World Cup with a best score of 20, in his four visits to the crease.

Markram has contributed just 31 runs at an average of less than eight.

“I still strive for that perfect game,” Markram admitted about his team’s shortcomings with the bat.

Among the bowlers, Anrich Nortje shone with the second-best nine wickets of a tournament with a top return of 4-7.

“Our bowlers have been very good to us and may have bailed us out of jail once or twice. But that’s understandable,” Markram added.

“The conditions have been quite tough for us with the bat. Now it’s a new start for us. Specifically, if you talk as a batting group, we get the opportunity to get new conditions, hopefully a little more batting-friendly for us.”

The US team has a South African in its line-up in left-arm fast bowling all-rounder Shadley van Schalkwyk.

The Cape Town native studied at the same school as former Proteas star Jacques Kallis.

The 35-year-old Van Schalkwyk is difficult to miss at the World Cup, because he superstitiously wears the same red, white and blue socks every match.

“I think he might have four or five pairs of those socks, to be honest,” said American batsman and stand-in skipper Aaron Jones.

“He really enjoys it. We like it. Every game we look forward to seeing what socks he will wear.”