India in SA
Vernon to deepen India woe?
Vernon Philander (AFP Photo)
Cape Town – The Proteas will understandably be reluctant to
tamper too much, if at all, with their line-up which was too hot for India to
handle in the first one-day international at the Wanderers on Friday.
But they have an opportunity to quickly put the mini-series
against the World Cup champions to bed in their favour if they triumph in
Sunday’s second encounter at Kingsmead, and may have to make some allowance for
different conditions at the coast.
For one thing, it is a daytime game this time, plus the
pitch may not provide quite the bounce and pace Dale Steyn and company so
revelled in at the Bullring where key psychological – and some associated, thudding
physical – blows were struck for the summer hostilities between these countries
as a whole.
Durban, though is tipped at this stage to be mostly cloudy
and typically sultry for the follow-up clash, so some sideways movement is
potentially on the cards for seamers and good control ought also to be
Under such circumstances, South Africa should think very
seriously about tweaking their bowling resources to facilitate the inclusion of
Test ace Vernon Philander at the expense, perhaps, of one of the left-arm
speedsters Lonwabo Tsotsobe or Wayne Parnell.
Outside of the exemplary Steyn (who picked up three
second-spell scalps in Johannesburg and was unlucky, frankly, not to have
grabbed a “six-for”) and also the aggressive but suitably disciplined Morne
Morkel, the Proteas’ strongly-stocked pace department was inclined toward
erratic characteristics even in the immensely satisfying, thumping win by 141
The home team gave away an unacceptable 24 runs in wides,
with Ryan McLaren (eight) and Parnell (six) special offenders.
McLaren, however, did also pick up three wickets, including
the world’s top-ranked ODI batsman Virat Kohli as he was starting to look
fairly dangerous, and his bowling may be well suited to the Kingsmead attempt
at a series kill-off before the return to a Highveld scenario at Centurion.
The addition of Philander, if he has overcome a shoulder
niggle, could only tighten up the Proteas’ attack and make it even more
difficult for India’s stroke-players to prosper.
A combination of assault and battery and minimal offering of
“boundary” balls tends to be a sure-fire way of keeping a lid on scoring rates
and Philander offers great qualities in the last-named area.
He was in excellent touch in his own last ODI appearance
last weekend, the dead-rubber victory over Pakistan at SuperSport Park where he
claimed figures of 3/26 in a full 10-over quota, and every time he has appeared
in the format this season he has looked very much at home.
As former national captain Kepler Wessels noted after the
near-merciless Wanderers win, nobody in the current Proteas XI can afford to
cruise because there are some good players in the broader squad champing at the
bit for game-time.
Philander, if fit, certainly fits that category; he offers
better credentials than Tsotsobe both as batsman and fielder, and doesn’t
significantly weaken the lower-order around the No 8 spot if he replaces
Nobody below No 6 got a bat anyway at the Wanderers, where
all but Jacques Kallis of the frontline batsmen came off in a no-nonsense way
and South Africa went past 300 – and then some! – for the first time in 17
Another quality customer presently in the wings is the
massively experienced Graeme Smith, let’s not forget, yet for the time being
there is no way the Hashim Amla-Quinton de Kock alliance up front can be
The 20-year-old De Kock is in it for the long haul, it seems,
after registering his second ODI century in less than a month and playing with
quite exhilarating freedom and natural talent once more – he can improvise and
take audacious risks but he is also capable of textbook, non-flamboyant shots
to please the most demanding of purists.
Mark Boucher, most certainly in a well-meaning way,
suggested to this writer a few days ago that we should “hit the brakes a bit”
in raising expectations of De Kock too quickly ... but at the same time a rival
school of thought may well be thinking the accelerator is actually the more
appropriate pedal and that a special player is well on the brew.
It is true that his wicketkeeping, while brimful of
potential as well, still has some faults and he put down another regulation
catch off Morkel’s bowling at the Wanderers, just suggesting a slight
hard-handedness in his pouching style.
He was distraught at the time but did not let it put him
down in the dumps for long, either, which is a sign of a rookie with a good
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