WILL THE WINDIES blow WITHOUT THEIR GAYLE FORCE?
The short-format clashes between the West Indies and the Proteas will be a barometer of form going into the ODI World Cup
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.