Warne lends a hand

2014-04-03 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Spin bowling wizard Shane Warne, who for many years was South Africa’s nemesis on cricket pitches, yesterday helped the Proteas prepare for their T20 semi-final match against India in Dhaka tomorrow.

The Press Trust of India reported that Warne had been assisting the Proteas in the nets.

The former Australian spin bowler apparently bowled to Quinton de Kock and also advised South African spinners Imran Tahir, JP Duminy and Aaron Phangiso.

The South Africans were somewhat surprised by Warne’s arrival at their practice.

According to Hashim Amla, Warne arrived at the nets as they started their practice.

“Maybe he was bored in his hotel room,” Amla said laughingly.

The advice to the Proteas by someone like Warne, who is acknowledged worldwide as one of the best bowlers in the history of the sport, will be worth gold, especially as spinners have dominated this world tournament.

India, the only unbeaten team, will also largely depend on their spinners — Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Ravindra Jadeja and even Yuvraj Singh — to beat the Proteas.

It is notably Amit Mishra who has had an exceptional tournament.

The Proteas have over the past few years improved their batting against spin bowlers, but it remains one of the weak spots in the team to chase runs against a team who field top spinners.

South Africa have so far been fortunate that the spinners who have had the biggest influence during the tournament did not play in SA’s group.

Sri Lanka are the only team South Africa played against who have the services of top spinners and in that match Rangana Herath did not even play. The left-handed spinner took 5/3 against New Zealand in the match that decided the future of the two teams. The spinners from India, the West Indies and Pakistan were the bowlers who dominated.

South Africa, however, can also lay claim to the presence of a spinner who has been feared by all the other teams.

Tahir has been the biggest wicket-taker among the spinners playing in the tournament and he is also the most consistent Proteas bowler by far. His performance tomorrow could well be a deciding factor in the match.

India have the reputation of batting the best against spin bowling in world cricket and they will definitely try to hit Tahir out of the ground. If he, however, repeats his performances so far during the tournament and takes middle order wickets, it would greatly improve South Africa’s chances of winning.

Hopefully Warne succeeded in providing him with the magic yesterday to be successful.

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