Can Proteas re­gain their win­ning form?

No­table changes made to strengthen squad

Sunday World - - World Of Sport - TELFORD VICE

SOUTH Africa will try to for­get Fri­day night and pick up where they left off in the United Arab Emi­rates when they face Pak­istan in the first one-day in­ter­na­tional (ODI) at New­lands in Cape Town to­day.

In the Emi­rates, the Proteas were close to un­touch­able. They re­cov­ered to share the Test se­ries 1-1 and played their best cricket when it mat­tered most to win the one-day­ers 4-1. They also won both the T20s.

Signs that the pur­ple patch was fad­ing to mauve were seen at the Wan­der­ers on Wed­nes­day. South Africa needed help from Duck­worth and Lewis to win the first T20 by four runs.

At New­lands on Fri­day, mauve be­came a moody blue and Pak­istan earned vic­tory in the sec­ond T20 by only six runs. But in truth, they were the bet­ter team on the night.

And so to to­day. The change of for­mat should work to the Proteas’ ad­van­tage. There is no ar­gu­ment, they are a bet­ter team. But the shorter the game, the greater the chance that the Men in Green will win. Fifty overs is enough to sep­a­rate the men from the boys.

AB de Vil­liers is back in the sad­dle as cap­tain the day af­ter he served as T20 cap­tain Faf du Plessis’s best man. Du Plessis, who mar­ried Imari Visser in Cape Town yes­ter­day, has been left out of the ODI mix.

Graeme Smith is back af­ter sit­ting out the past cou­ple of weeks with post­con­cus­sion syn­drome.

But the big­gest change to South Africa’s lineup is the re­turn of Jac­ques Kal­lis to ODIs for the first time since last Fe­bru­ary. He missed the last 29 matches in the for­mat, and the na­tion will want to know if the stal­wart all-rounder still has what it takes to suc­ceed.

Se­lec­tion con­venor An­drew Hud­son said this week: “As well as Ryan McLaren and Wayne Par­nell have done as emerg­ing all-rounders, it is very wel­come news to have Jac­ques back. There is no sub­sti­tute for the ex­pe­ri­ence he brings.”

To­day ’ s match will mark the be­gin­ning of the Kal­lis bid to stay in the fit­ness and se­lec­tion frame well enough to play in the 2015 World Cup.

The Proteas have never won the tour­na­ment, and the pres­sure is al­ready on for what their pub­lic con­sid­ers a golden gen­er­a­tion of play­ers to put the cherry on top of the cake.

The World Cup, which will be played in Aus­tralia and New Zealand, is still more than a year away.

But for South Africa, and es­pe­cially for Kal­lis, it be­gins at New­lands to­day.

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