The short-for­mat clashes be­tween the West Indies and the Proteas will be a barom­e­ter of form go­ing into the ODI World Cup

CityPress - - Front Page - STU­ART LONG­BOT­TOM stu­art.long­bot­tom@city­press.co.za

I t’s all eyes on white-ball cricket in the siz­zling South African sum­mer as the test com­po­nent of the West Indies tour of South Africa draws to a close. While we are still wait­ing to see whether the Proteas can seal a con­vinc­ing se­ries win or the is­landers can build on the mo­men­tum from the washed-out sec­ond test and level mat­ters, we turn our at­ten­tion to the three-match T20 se­ries set to be­gin on Fri­day in Cape Town.

There­after, a five-match ODI se­ries awaits the third-ranked Proteas and the eighth-ranked West Indies from Jan­uary 16 to 28.

With the big-hit­ting Chris Gayle’s fit­ness in ques­tion, the men from the Caribbean will look to test cen­tu­rion Mar­lon Sa­muels to prop up a shaky T20 bat­ting line-up.

The other Windies cen­tu­rion in the test se­ries thus far, Kraigg Brath­waite, is no­tably ab­sent from the squad.

Last year’s T20 World Cup semi­fi­nal­ists will hope to show what they’re made of and be­lieve they have the bound­ary-slam­ming prow­ess to do just that.

But they won’t find it easy against the Proteas, even with the pared­down squad the se­lec­tors have opted for.

Faf du Plessis re­tains the cap­taincy, and aside from JP Du­miny’s pre­dicted re­turn from in­jury in the third game and the in­clu­sion of spin­ner Im­ran Tahir, the squad is fresh-faced, with key play­ers be­ing rested ahead of the ODI World Cup down un­der next month.

The side is bol­stered by the re­turn of in­jured left-arm spin­ner Aaron Phangiso, mid­dle-or­der slug­ger David Miller and young bat­ting tal­ent Rilee Ros­souw, who showed prom­ise in the short-for­mat se­ries in Aus­tralia in Novem­ber.

Morné van Wyk will take his place be­hind the wicket in the ab­sence of Quin­ton de Kock, who turned his an­kle in the first test.

The T20 se­ries prom­ises to be an en­tic­ing af­fair, since the two sides are rel­a­tively un­known to each other, hav­ing only played on six pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sions. The Proteas have won five of those matches, but the Windies will surely ap­proach the se­ries as an op­por­tu­nity to bring some par­ity to that record.

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