• Shamsi could offer Proteas a lifeline

    Picking two spinners for Southampton may be the Proteas’ best chance to open their World Cup account after Dale Steyn was ruled out of the rest of the tournament, writes JOHN GOLIATH.

    Proteas speedster Dale Steyn steamed in on the practice pitches in Southampton on Monday, hoping to prove his fitness ahead of South Africa’s must-win World Cup clash against India at the Rose Bowl on Wednesday. But 24 hours later he will be leaving for home after his shoulder injury failed to recover to take part in this tournament.

    South Africa’s fast bowlers have been off their game, as Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada also came into the tournament after recovering from their respective niggles, while Chris Morris struggled for consistency in his first outing.

    This bowling attack has already conceded a combined total of 641 runs in their opening matches, which in turn has put their brittle batting lineup under immense pressure.

    Ngidi has been ruled out of action for 10 days after injuring his hamstring against Bangladesh on Sunday, which makes Steyn’s non-participation an even bigger blow ahead of Wednesday’s crucial fixture.

    A third defeat will see the Proteas struggle to get into the top four and qualify for the semi-finals.

    Left-arm seamer Beuran Hendricks will fly to England to replace Steyn, but will not arrive in time to face India. So the only other options left for captain Faf du Plessis are left-arm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi and all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius.

    The Rose Bowl wicket is likely to be flat. The last ODI at the venue saw England and Pakistan smash 734 runs. England batted first and amassed a hefty 373-3. Pakistan fell 12 short, but their batsman also had a bit of a party.

    The Proteas should rather consider playing two spinners, instead of another all-rounder. Playing Shamsi will at least give the Proteas some variation alongside the wily Imram Tahir, who can also be employed in the power play if needed against the much-vaunted Indian batting lineup, who feasts on military medium bowlers on flat decks.

    The Proteas definitely have to look at their bowling plans, because being too predictable against India could be cricketing suicide. Their unused spinner will provide a bit of mystery.

    India’s batsmen do play spin well. Then again, they play medium pace bowling with no swing even better. The bowling unit is under pressure, so what could be the harm in trying something new?

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    John Goliath