Ntini cautions on Sri Lanka seamers

2013-07-21 14:00

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Spinners may be tricky, but the pace attack could inflict pain

Former Proteas pace bowler Makhaya Ntini has advised Proteas batsmen not to be worried about the spin threat Sri Lanka poses.

The Proteas are on the tea-producing island for a five-match ODI series that started yesterday, as well as a best-of-three T20 series.

“Most of our players play in the Indian Premier League and they are exposed to most of the spinners, whether they are Indian or Sri Lankan,” said Ntini.

“They play on the subcontinent quite often so they know what is required of them and they have been empowered to deal with them. Those guys can turn the ball square off a concrete strip so they will know what to expect.”

Of all the test playing nations, Sri Lanka and India are the only countries where the Proteas are yet to win an ODI series.

Wily off-spinning magician Muttiah Muralitharan may have retired two years ago; but when South Africa last played in a bilateral series in Sri Lanka nine years ago, the innocuous name of Upul Chandana comes up.

Muralitharan did not take part in that series and the leg-spinner Chandana was one of many Sri Lankan spinners who lived under Murali’s shadow. But in that series, in which the Lankans whitewashed the Proteas 5-0, he was the highest wicket taker.

Another part-timer in TM Dilshan jointly topped the wicket charts with eight wickets.

Rangana Herath, Ajantha Mendis and Sachithra Senanayake will be Sri Lanka’s front line spinners for this series.

Ntini, who took 390 test wickets and 266 in ODIs, was part of the 2004 team that lost 10 ODIs on the trot.

He cautioned that Sri Lanka’s pace attack and their ability to swing the ball should not be ignored. That includes Lasith Malinga’s inswinging yorkers that often take the pitch out of the equation.

“At one stage, Sri Lanka’s spinners were the biggest threat and yes they were a trump card in home conditions. But their pace attack must not be overlooked. They have some seriously good swing bowlers and that must not be underestimated.”

In that series, South Africa’s batting was their biggest weakness, only passing 250 in the first and last matches.

Jacques Kallis was South Africa’s top scorer in the series with 234 runs but he has skipped this tour.

JP Duminy, who made his ODI debut on that tour, as well as Robin Peterson, are South Africa’s survivors. Their tormentors, Kumar Sangakarra and Mahela Jayawardene, are back for another bite.

With Sri Lanka’s run-scoring heavily dependent on the form of those two players, Ntini said the opportunity for South Africa’s batting collective to contribute has never been better.

“It must not just be about Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers. Cricket is about a team of 11 individuals who have to contribute to the effort,” he said.

» Talk to us: What's your advice to the Proteas? How can they win their first ODI series in Sri Lanka?

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