ICC World Twenty20

Proteas: 8 spin overs enough!

2014-04-02 13:04
Imran Tahir (AFP)
Cape Town - Should South Africa succumb to the “raging turner” hype and put out an exceedingly rare - for them - attack dominated by spinners in the ICC World Twenty20 semi-final against India in Dhaka on Friday (15:00 SA time)?

Without the benefit of being there, my guess a couple of days out from the clash is that coach Russell Domingo and his lieutenants will not disturb the reasonably successful SA status quo at the tournament, which features a likely maximum of eight overs of turning fare and Imran Tahir and JP Duminy the men responsible for that allocation.

The remaining 12 overs, then, will come solely, or at least primarily, from a front-line pace trio of Dale Steyn, Wayne Parnell and the raw but acclimatising Beuran Hendricks who will get his most rigorous examination yet against India’s array of Subcontinent-thriving strokeplayers.

Understandably, there has been some speculation that the Proteas might wish to add a third element to their spin resources at the helpful Shere Bangla National Stadium, by belatedly introducing left-arm specialist Aaron Phangiso - the only squad member thus far not to have had a game at the event.

With respect to Phangiso, who has often been a more than competent factor in domestic cricket, the jury remains undecided about the 30-year-old’s suitability to international limited-overs cricket, which explains his sporadic, eight caps across the two one-day folds.

Let’s not forget that Indian batsmen often make merry against the very best spinners a rival country can offer in Asian conditions, so the question to ask is: does it make sense to bring a “cold” Phangiso into the mix and expect him to thrive instantly?

I would go so far as to suggest that a likelier event would be the restoration of experienced paceman Morne Morkel to the attack for the semi than a call-up for Phangiso, even if I am also duly respectful of the “never say never” theory and cannot read influential minds.

Not only has the Lions stalwart not played any tourney matches thus far, but he was given miserly exposure of four balls and two overs respectively in the two warm-up matches against Bangladesh A and Pakistan respectively.

He had also played little cricket of any significance in the lead-up to the global get-together: his last franchise appearance had come on February 2 when the embattled Lions earned a consolation seven-run, round-robin victory over eventual champions the Dolphins in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge in Johannesburg.

Phangiso did shine with figures of three for 18, but that game was exactly two months ago now.

There has been little indication from the SA camp over whether all-rounder Albie Morkel, who dislocated a finger against England, will be fit to play against the favoured Indians.

It is possible he would be available as a batsman only, so a bigger issue than Phangiso, perhaps, is for the Proteas to mull over whether the older Morkel brother is worth fielding at all under such circumstances.

If it is felt a broader-package cricketer is required for the particular task at hand, he could be replaced, around the No 7 spot, by Farhaan Behardien, who is capable of a bit of a suffocating medium-pace if one of the more frontline faster men is taking some serious stick and impromptu back-up is needed.

South Africa ought not to be overly daunted by the expectation of a pitch that will offer both turn and some bounce to spinners - the venue has also shown, at this very tournament, that is can be responsive to seamers who mix it up shrewdly.

This is the team I fancy the Proteas might put out on Friday: Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis (capt), JP Duminy, David Miller, Albie Morkel (or Farhaan Behardien if necessary), Wayne Parnell, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir, Beuran Hendricks.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    proteas  |  icc world twenty20  |  cricket
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