Proteas

Faf still backing AB at the top

2016-03-07 09:50
AB de Villiers (Gallo)

Cape Town - As the ICC World Twenty20 in India approaches, it is surely getting harder and harder for Proteas management to consider leaving out one of Quinton de Kock or Hashim Amla. 

With the decision having been taken to back AB de Villiers as the opener for this month's showpiece in India, Proteas captain Faf du Plessis and coach Russell Domingo have both suggested in recent weeks that either De Kock or Amla will miss out. 

But, with just one clash remaining against Australia before the side departs for the tournament, the option of playing both De Kock and Amla is surely becoming more attractive. 

De Kock blitzed 44 from 28 on Sunday in a knock that reminded everyone how dangerous he can be. 

He is surely a name that cannot be left out of a South African team in any format these days, and his inclusion also frees up De Villiers to throw himself around in the field. 

Amla, meanwhile, has not played since his career-best 69* off 38 balls against England last month. 

He is a player that is easily pigeonholed as being too conservative and slow for T20 cricket, but his career strike rate of 125.55 tells a different story. 

To put that into perspective, De Villiers' T20I strike rate is 128.89 while De Kock's is 123.14. 

De Kock does not need the invitation of the new ball or the power-play to get going. 

He bats on instinct, has a seemingly limitless spectrum of shots and he times the ball better than most. 

With Du Plessis, David Miller and JP Duminy assured of their places in the middle order the Proteas' only batting selection dilemma comes in the form of the Farhaan Behardien/Rilee Rossouw slot.

Du Plessis, for the first time, has hinted at the possibility of moving one of De Villiers, Amla or De Kock into the middle order at the World T20 ... but if that happens it is highly unlikely to be De Villiers that shifts down. 

"It’s not something I’d like to do. We decided on AB at the top a while ago and to change that would be a sign of panic," Du Plessis said after his side's dramatic 5-wicket loss to Australia in Johannesburg on Sunday.

"But on the day if you get to a World Cup and you feel that form is different, then obviously you always look to change it.

"For me it’s about your best form players in a World Cup, so you always look at that.

"From a structure point of view, in an ideal world, I think our strongest team is with AB at the top in India.

"If we’re struggling to find guys in the middle order … who are not in form … then you can look to try and change how you can get AB in there.

"But at the moment everyone is in really good touch. Quinny batted really well today, Hash is in good touch, AB played really well a week ago against England.

"For two games of him not scoring runs to start saying he shouldn’t be batting there is a sign of panic. If in India you feel that form is an issue for some of the players, then we can look at it. But for now we’re not considering it."

The Proteas take on Australia in Cape Town on Wednesday.

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