Proteas' Champions Trophy squad named

De Villiers to lead strong South Africa side as spinner Maharaj earns maiden ODI call-up

Left-arm orthodox spinner Keshav Maharaj is set for his first ODI tour after being named in South Africa's 15-man squad for the ICC Champions Trophy.

The Proteas will take on England in three ODIs from May 24 in Leeds before launching into their Champions Trophy campaign on June 3 against Sri Lanka in London.

Maharaj made his Test debut against Australia last November in Perth and has gone on to claim 26 wickets at 25.88 from seven matches, including an innings best of 6-40 against New Zealand in Wellington last month.

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The 27-year-old joins regular spin option Imran Tahir in the squad.

"Keshav has had an exceptional debut season for the Test side and his inclusion in the squad gives us a spinner with different skills and extra batting depth," said Cricket South Africa convener of selectors, Linda Zondi.

"We have seen how important it is to bat deep in ODI cricket, this option will give us that cover if needed."

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Towering quick Morne Morkel makes a return to the limited-overs format after almost 10 months out, adding experience to the pace attack which also featuring Kagiso Rabada, Wayne Parnell, Chris Morris, Dwaine Pretorius and Andile Phehlukwayo.

The Proteas are the No.1 ranked ODI team after winning 14 of their past 16 matches, including a 3-2 series win over New Zealand last month and a history-making five-nil whitewash of Australia last October.

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"This group of players have all of the necessary components to compete and do well in the tournament," former SA captain Graeme Smith wrote in his ICC column earlier this month.

"I look at the side now and am struggling to find a weak link as there are lots of quality options with the ball as well as with the bat.

"The three games against England in May will help the players acclimatise to English pitches and conditions ahead of the first ball of the tournament, and it’s important that they play those games as close to tournament intensity as possible.

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"Tournaments are tough by nature, in that from ball one you have to play your best cricket to progress.

"Playing the host nation, with the quality they have at their disposal, will be a good indication of how ready the players are to try and end the draught in terms of one-day competitions."

Proteas squad for three-match ODI series against England and ICC Champions Trophy: AB de Villiers (c), Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy, David Miller, Chris Morris,  Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir, Dwaine Pretorius, Keshav Maharaj, Farhaan Behardien, Morne Morkel.

South Africa's Champions Trophy fixtures

Saturday, June 3: Sri Lanka, The Oval, London

Wednesday, June 7: Pakistan, Edgbaston, Birmingham

Sunday, June 11: India, The Oval, London

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