South Africa’s chances of beating West Indies will depend on their flexibility in taking risks and being brave in everything they do.
Friday’s group match between the two teams is more like a semi-final because I have no doubt that if South Africa beat the West Indies, and I believe the chances are good of doing so, they will also triumph over Sri Lanka on Monday.
A defeat will take South Africa’s fate out of their hands.
The injury to JP Duminy means the selectors have some tough calls to make regarding selection. I have no doubt that Dale Steyn will come back into the side for this match, probably in the place of Kyle Abbott.
I think Aaron Phangiso has to play so he can get confidence in his new bowling action. South Africa missed a trick not playing him against Afghanistan, a team you would expect them to beat nine out of 10 times. The conditions in Nagpur will differ greatly from those in Mumbai where the Proteas played their first two group games. It will be slower and favour spin bowling more.
The only real risk in playing Phangiso is the fact that he hasn’t played a competitive match since his bowling action was reported in the play-off game for the Lions in the Momentum One-Day Cup, but it’s a chance they’ll have to take.
It will be a big adjustment for South Africa going from playing on a quick, bouncy wicket to a slow turner, and we saw how England, who also played their first two games in Mumbai, struggled against Afghanistan on Wednesday and almost lost.
Going from Mumbai to Nagpur is like playing in the Highveld and then going to East London. Timing becomes very important; it’s all about placing the ball in the gaps to get boundaries rather than going for big shots all the time. It will also be lower scoring games from now on where a total of around 160 will in most cases be a winning score.
While a collective team effort will be needed to win this game, Chris Gayle poses a significant threat. South Africa have to get him early because I think they will almost certainly lose the game if they don’t. The reason I say that is because he doesn’t bat slowly.
Where most batsmen’s scoring rate slows down after the powerplay, Gayle continues to play big shots and score quickly.
However, the West Indies have a similar problem with AB de Villiers, who has a formidable record against them. It will be interesting to see what areas they bowl against him, because nothing has worked for them in the past and that will definitely play on their minds and make them tentative.
In terms of selections, South Africa need to be brave and not afraid to take risks.
I would bring back Steyn for Abbott and keep Kagiso Rabada and Chris Morris as my other seamers. I would pick two spinners in Imran Tahir and Aaron Phangiso, which makes it a straight shootout between David Wiese, Farhaan Behardien and Rilee Rossouw to take Duminy’s spot.
If they feel they need a batsman, Rossouw would get my vote because he is the best batsman out of the three. But if they feel a sixth bowler is important, I think Wiese might get the nod ahead of Behardien.
Alviro Petersen is a former Proteas cricketer and the third South African to score a century on Test debut. He has several records, including:
- The highest partnership by a South African pair (501) with Ashwell Prince;
- Four consecutive list A centuries (SA record and joint world record);
- Scored a century in both innings of a first-class game three times;
- Most centuries in a South African first-class season (6);
- The 2010 Mutual and Federal SA Cricketer of the Year;
- In 2011 became only the sixth player in Glamorgan history to score more that 2000 runs in a county season;
- Founder of the Alviro Petersen Foundation and Alviro Petersen Cricket School: www.alviropetersen.com