Pakistan in SA

Proteas to pack top-3 punch

2013-02-28 14:15
AB de Villiers (Gallo)
Durban – South Africa’s Twenty20 team plan to put many of their eggs into a top-order basket as they seek to move up from current mid-table status in the ICC rankings.

Be prepared to bob and weave if you’re in the Kingsmead crowd at the start of their innings as they begin the two-match T20 series against Pakistan here on Friday (18:00) ... the top three slots are expected to be occupied by a thumping alliance AB de Villiers, Henry Davids and captain Faf du Plessis, in that order.

Some might say it begs the question: how smartly will they be able to retain rhythm if a couple of quick wickets fall?

But a more positive view would be that the Proteas intend landing some power-punches at the crease immediately, and hoping to create irresistible impetus.

Du Plessis revealed the team’s intentions in that regard at a media briefing on Thursday, and quickly admitted to Sport24 that the De Villiers switch to opener – he will also keep wicket, at least for game one – was at least partly to create a new “Herschelle Gibbs” type of presence at the outset.

Strangely the unpredictable though clean-striking Gibbs, now 39 and a journeyman of the global T20 franchise circuit, seldom came off spectacularly at or near the top of the South African order in the format (he averaged 18 from 23 appearances) although he could strike fear into bowlers’ hearts when the mood grabbed him and more often provided front-end fireworks in the ODI arena.

“Yes, definitely. There’s only a handful of players in the world who can score centuries upfront,” said Du Plessis.

 “AB is a great striker of the ball – he can take a game away from the opposition as he’s good against both spinners and seamers; naturally a flair player.

“We just feel AB is one of the best batsmen in the world ... it’s a call we’re making just to see what we can get out of it with the next (ICC World Twenty20 tournament) in mind.

“You want your best players in as early as possible and AB is excited about the role.

“He plays proper shots at the top and will offer good balance to that opening partnership with Henry, who is more the guy who will take you on all the time.”

In his 44 T20 international appearances thus far, De Villiers has never yet batted higher than No 3, and most often at four. 

Asked about the limited-overs credentials of recent Test debut sensation Kyle Abbott, a local Dolphins favourite who seems near-certain to play on Friday, Du Plessis said: “Me knowing Kyle ... he’s obviously had a fantastic start to his Test career, but he also has a lot of skill in one-day cricket.

“I think we can be excited about what he’ll bring to the team – he’s obviously on a massive high with his confidence so he’s going to play a huge role in the coming month or so in the T20s and also the ODIs.

“We can really improve our bowling skills at the death, and here Kyle has been excellent in domestic cricket, so we will definitely use him there and see how he goes.

“He won’t offer anything in the top 7 from a batting point of view, but the nice thing is that he offers you something towards the end and can hit the ball over the rope – that’s also a crucial part of the game.”

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    proteas  |  pakistan in sa  |  ab de villiers  |  cricket
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