South Africa should drop spinner Imran Tahir and use an all-out pace attack to beat New Zealand in Tuesday’s semi-final in Auckland, says former Australia captain Ricky Ponting.
According to Ponting, South Africa should exploit the seam-friendly conditions of the Eden Park pitch by picking an fourth seamer instead of a spinner.
It would be a bold move by the South African selectors, considering Tahir has been the most consistent bowler for the Proteas at the tournament and their leading wicket-taker with 15 victims so far.
‘The Kiwis have been extraordinary, but apart from Australia no bowling attack has asked any serious questions of their batsmen,’ Ponting wrote in The Australian.
‘It seems to swing for most of the game at Eden Park so the bowlers on both sides are going to make it hard for the batsmen and that movement makes it hard to exploit the short boundaries.
‘Spinner Imran Tahir got four wickets for South Africa in their last match, but they might be tempted to load up with seamers for that ground and I reckon that will be a good tactic.’
AB de Villiers confirmed at his pre-match press conference that everyone, including Vernon Philander, was fit for selection for the semi-final. He played just three of South Africa’s six pool games and Kyle Abbott was preferred ahead of him for the quarter-final against Sri Lanka.
The South African selectors have a difficult decision to make between the two, but it’s highly unlikely that dropping Tahir is even considered as an option.
The Black Caps have displayed their strength at the top of the order with Brendon McCullum, Kane Williamson and Saturday’s double-centurion Martin Guptill, but Ponting suggests the competition co-hosts are vulnerable through the middle order.
‘I wonder a bit about the Kiwi middle order if South Africa go hard at them with four seamers,’ Ponting continued.
‘I think Ross Taylor, Grant Elliott and those blokes might find the going hard if the squeeze is put on them.’
South Africa enter the clash full of confidence after finally breaking through for their first victory in a World Cup knockout clash.
Ponting, who played in the famous semi-final tie against South Africa in 1999, suggested the Proteas have gone a long way to shaking the ‘chokers’ tag that has stuck with them for so long.
‘The team AB de Villiers has at the moment has shaken off a lot of the failings of previous South African sides,’ Ponting said.
‘Blokes like AB and Faf [du Plessis] and Hashim [Amla] seem to lift when the pressure is on and have banished that suggestion they will choke at the critical moment.’