Cape Town – South Africa may have to significantly
restructure their team if JP Duminy is declared unfit for their key ICC World
Twenty20 match against in-form West Indies at Nagpur on Friday (16:00 SA time)
… with Aaron Phangiso and Rilee Rossouw likely beneficiaries.
The middle-order batsman and part-time off-spinner strained
his left hamstring in the slightly nervy but eventually comfortable enough
victory over perky minnows Afghanistan in Mumbai on Sunday and is probably
touch-and-go at best for the next outing against the unbeaten group leaders.
The Proteas may well still have to beat both West Indies and
Sri Lanka if they are to ensure onward passage to the semi-finals.
Duminy, despite his recent woes with the ball, has always
been a core element of the country’s T20 plans for his cerebral batting, which
generally involves working the ball around smartly in the middle phase of their
innings before he explodes into boundary-seeking action himself toward the
The Cape Cobras player is in decent touch, with respective
scores of 54 not out off 28 deliveries against England, and then an unbeaten 29
not out off 20 balls in the latest fixture which saw the Proteas return to
winning ways after a run of three defeats in T20 internationals.
His slow-bowling fare would certainly have been earmarked
for use at Nagpur, where the pitch ought to be vastly different from the true,
pacy surface experienced by South Africa in successive games at the Wankhede
As captain Faf du Plessis said after the Afghanis had
finally been subdued by 37 runs, the turning crumbler they will next operate on
will be like playing on a “different continent”.
But if Duminy cannot make the XI against the Caribbean
outfit for injury-related reasons, consider it even more certain that specialist
left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso will be required to reinforce the tweaking
He has been idle for both matches so far, a major-tournament
trend that goes back to the 50-overs World Cup of 2015 when he failed to get an
appearance at all.
Duminy and Phangiso are different players, of course, given
the former’s enormously stronger all-round credentials, so one replacing the
other would be no like-for-like situation.
Should Duminy be sidelined, an extra batsman would be
needed, hence the likelihood that the left-handed power-hitter Rossouw – or
possibly the more “nurdling”, oft-maligned Farhaan Behardien -- would earn a
call-up, whilst one of lower-order all-rounder Chris Morris and David Wiese
would have to make way for Phangiso.
Right now Morris is the form operator of that duo, given his
priceless role on Sunday in putting a halt to the worryingly riotous start by
Afghanistan in their chase of a 210-run target.
Morris bowled with hostility and intensity in his first
stint, and then intelligence and skill – with his reverse-swinging yorker
coming into play in a pronounced way – at the death, as he notched personal
best T20 international figures of four for 27.
By contrast, Wiese is currently struggling on the bowling
front, leaking 47 in four overs without any wicket success against the
second-tier nation, to add to unimpressive stints of 2-0-23-0 (Newlands) and
4-0-58-0 (Wanderers) against Australia recently.
Just one critic who believes Phangiso must be summoned for
Nagpur is vastly experienced former SA wicketkeeper Mark Boucher, who said in
the SuperSport studio after the victory over Afghanistan: “I’m still very
concerned (about the SA bowling) … we need that extra spinner in Nagpur.
“Why not bring in Phangi and open with him? We can’t get any
He was doubtless referring to the awful pounding various
Proteas seamers have taken in the first three overs, especially, against both
England (56 for one at that point) and Afghanistan (47 without loss).
Boucher’s thinking is further justified by the fact that,
when New Zealand upset hosts India in the low-scoring first match of the
tournament-proper at the very Nagpur, both teams opted to start out their
bowling with spinners – India employing Ravichandran Ashwin and the Black Caps
There is divided thought about the wisdom of the Proteas
omitting legendary spearhead Dale Steyn, who desperately needs overs under the
belt, on Sunday, and his spot is probably also tenuous as a result, rightly or
wrongly, for the next match.
Albeit several days
out yet, this may well be the team SA field against West Indies if Duminy
doesn’t make it: Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis (capt), AB de
Villiers, Rilee Rossouw, David Miller, Chris Morris, Kyle Abbott, Kagiso
Rabada, Aaron Phangiso, Imran Tahir.
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