Proteas look all set for Tro­phy

Only Miller and Tahir’s fit­ness a ma­jor con­cern, as is the all-rounder berth

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - LUN­GANI ZAMA

THE PROTEAS have en­joyed the past two days at leisure, with the squad handed a short break be­fore they re­ally knuckle down for Satur­day’s opener against Sri Lanka.

Some went golf­ing in Sur­rey, while the likes of Ke­shav Ma­haraj met up with friends in the city of Lon­don. David Miller and Im­ran Tahir, mean­while, mixed plea­sure with pres­sure, as the physio kept at them and their ham­strings.

By to­mor­row, a de­ci­sion needs to be made on the pair, and the se­lec­tion panel and skip­per AB de Vil­liers would love to have both in the side.

There is op­ti­mism that both will be fit, though if they were to pick a match to miss in the group stages, Sri Lanka would prob­a­bly head the list.

Of course, like ev­ery other side, South Africa want to make an im­me­di­ate im­pres­sion in the com­pe­ti­tion. The one-day se­ries against Eng­land didn’t go ac­cord­ing to plan, but the win at Lord’s re­stored some con­fi­dence, and per­haps con­firmed the need for spe­cial­ists in the early sum­mer con­di­tions.

The Proteas’ bowl­ing depart­ment looked most threat­en­ing when they were on the at­tack, pitch­ing the ball up and look­ing for it to swing. The se­ries was a fi­nal trial for cer­tain spots, and Wayne Par­nell did his chances no harm with his new-ball spell.

He bowled at good pace, and got late swing – to left and right-handed bats­men. In tan­dem with Kag­iso Rabada, he asks a dif­fer­ent set of ques­tions, and looks a real dan­ger when he keeps the ball up.

It is in the all-round depart­ment that the Proteas have to make some big calls. They can’t play all four of Par­nell, Chris Mor­ris, Andile Phehluk­wayo and Dwaine Pre­to­rius. It will have to be two at a time and it seems, and the lat­ter duo didn’t en­joy the suc­cess of the past year.

They were con­fronted by a charg­ing Eoin Mor­gan and, even worse, Ben Stokes, and their fig­ures suf­fered. Both missed out at Lord’s.

Up­front, Hashim Amla has found his touch again, pass­ing 7 000 runs in the process. The flu­ency is back in his off-side play, and his catch­ing at Lord’s would have been a re­lief to him and the col­lec­tive.

Quin­ton de Kock, Faf du Plessis and AB de Vil­liers all have runs un­der the belt, so there aren’t too many wor­ries in the top four.

It is be­low them that there have been some con­cerns. JP Du­miny was dis­carded af­ter a poor shot at Head­in­g­ley, but was re­stored for the fi­nal match against Eng­land, where he spent some valu­able time at the crease.

Miller, if passed fit, is the fin­isher, and Mor­ris looks to be the man to as­sist in that re­gard.

Kag­iso Rabada and Tahir pick them­selves, and Par­nell – still a con­fi­dence player – al­most has to play af­ter his ex­ploits on Mon­day. That leaves room for one more, and it looks like a bat­tle be­tween the ex­pe­ri­ence of Morne Morkel, and the en­thu­si­asm of Andile Phehluk­wayo.

The lat­ter has been en­trusted with the death overs for most of the past year, so it is un­likely that he will be dis­carded so swiftly. Morkel, of course, brings strik­ing abil­ity up­front.

Cru­cially, Phehluk­wayo is also more com­fort­able with bat in hand, and is much more ver­sa­tile around the field.

Those ad­di­tional fac­tors may just give him the edge. WILL THEY MAKE IT? South Africa’s David Miller and Im­ran Tahir are ex­pected to be fit for the coun­try’s open­ing fix­ture of the ICC Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy against Sri Lanka on Satur­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.