SA to risk ‘light’ attack again?

2014-09-04 22:12
JP Duminy (Gallo Images)

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2014-09-04 10:45

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Cape Town – The Proteas, safely installed in Saturday’s final of the Zimbabwe triangular against Australia as log-toppers, seem likely to stick to their latest template of beefing up the batting at the expense of the bowling.

If they do so against their fierce old adversaries, JP Duminy will be a central figure in an all-round role, having ticked that box impressively in Thursday’s comfortable and generally satisfying 63-run victory over the host nation in Harare.

The left-handed batsman not only contributed a workmanlike 51 at his best trade – including a century stand with the riotously in-form Faf du Plessis – but then bagged his second best one-day international figures of 3/35 from 8.2 overs with his off-spin.

That versatile effort came at a fitting time because the South African brains trust, to their credit, opted to take the necessary step of bolstering their batting line-up to make the middle-order and tail look less lightweight than had been the case for a while.

What it meant was that Duminy, who is much more used to being a sixth bowling element in ODIs, was roped into more pressured service among the frontline five as depth in that particular department was instead compromised.

In the end he was not quite required to bowl a full quota, as Zimbabwe were bowled out in the 48th over, but that would have been a likelihood if the minnows had batted better.

Duminy has only ever completed the maximum 10 overs four times in his 125 ODIs, which include 79 bowling opportunities for him, and is much more used to bowling often valuable half-doses, if you like.

So he was effectively handed greater responsibility on Thursday and was up to the task on a track that again, admittedly, had a good bit in it for spinners.

As a result, smart money suggests the Proteas may now go into Saturday’s showpiece (09:30 SA time) with exactly the same combination that saw off Zimbabwe solidly enough.

Selection options are quite limited anyway now that Ryan McLaren has withdrawn injured from the remainder of the tournament, although leg-spinner Imran Tahir having to be idle again would be cruel considering his decent showings over the last fortnight or thereabouts – Aaron Phangiso has similarly shone in the incumbent specialist spinner’s role.

Against Zimbabwe, South Africa relied on a seam attack comprising Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Wayne Parnell, and Duminy and Aaron Phangiso for spin, although they also experimented a bit by giving a couple of overs to unlikely part-timers Rilee Rossouw and AB de Villiers.

Whether this sort of arsenal is sufficient to contain the variety of extrovert stroke-players in the Aussie line-up is very debatable, but they bowled with discipline and intelligence as a unit on Thursday and that may just have been enough to warrant the status quo prevailing.

Besides, if the Proteas do decide to improve their bowling options, it would only mean they restore a bit of a problem in batting depth down the order.

Significantly, by giving Rossouw a further chance to announce himself in ODIs after successive, start-out ducks, South Africa were able to push David Miller one slot down the order to No 7, which just seems a better fit for him in his tricky role as a “finisher”.

In the latest game, the Bloemfontein-born player finally came good to some degree, and there is now a particularly weird statistical synergy between the left-hander and a certain Sachin Tendulkar.

The Indian legend also got a pair of noughts at the outset of his sublime ODI career, and in his third knock, against New Zealand in Wellington in 1990, notched 39 off 36 balls with five fours. Rossouw against Zimbabwe: 39 off 36 balls, five fours.

The bad news is that in his fourth game, the youthful Tendulkar was run out for 10 against Sri Lanka.

But that statistic may not be enough for the Proteas’ planners to contemplate discarding Rossouw from the final against Australia, now that his confidence has had a timely, mini-boost ...

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    proteas  |  jp duminy  |  cricket

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