South Africa's stand-in T20I skipper Heinrich Klaasen has forcefully shrugged off the label of being a second-string outfit given the lack of several experienced players in the line-up ahead of the series against Pakistan.
The Proteas are without the services of Test regulars Kagiso Rabada, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis and Rassie van der Dussen once the Pakistan T20Is commence.
But Klaasen is unfazed by the daunting prospect of a full-strength Pakistan squad in Lahore and feels the South Africa youngsters have the potential to pull off an impressive triumph.
“We are undoubtedly not a second-string side. Obviously, we have a couple of guys missing but the way we are playing during the Covid-19 pandemic, those players needed to be rested as well and this paves the way for others to showcase their skills," Klaasen told reporters.
"The [new] players deserve it, they have been doing well for a couple of years now and so we are definitely looking to win the three-game series. We are going to play to the best of our ability.”
While there is a glaring dearth of international caps, South Africa do have a group of white-ball specialists capable of vanquishing opponents.
David Miller – the most experienced of the lot – will be bolstering the tourists' batting resources and Klaasen believes the aggressive southpaw will have a significant role to play in the T20I battle against Pakistan.
"To have David Miller, who has played here before, helping the guys out is great because he has knowledge of the ground. We have a very strong squad and expect nothing less than a series win."
Klaasen has not had the ideal preparation for the Pakistan tour given a bout of the coronavirus infection that took a toll on his health.
The wicketkeeper, who has two T20I fifties, claimed his fitness took a massive hit when he contracted the virus in December, restraining him from indulging in match practice.
“It has been a different season of sorts for me. I think I have played four games so far which is very frustrating.
"I have finally recovered now but the coronavirus hit me quite hard. The last few months were tough after I tested positive. I have been working hard and it’s difficult to tell you about my form but I will guess we will know after the series," he said.