Choppy seas: can Faf steer Proteas home?

2014-09-06 00:00

TODAY’S Tri-Series final between the Proteas and Australia in Harare is the ideal dress rehearsal for next year’s ICC World Cup in February.

With each side having won a game in the two meetings to date in the series, there’s much to play for, the ultimate goal being to get one over the old enemy and prove who the better side is on the day.

However, the Proteas, despite topping the table with 14 points, will have to iron out some rough edges and tighten some loose bolts within the team if they are to emerge as the kings of Africa.

Most notable is the middle order, which has looked a little weak and stodgy on occasion, plus the bowling at the business end of the opposition’s innings.

In the second match against the Aussies, the bowling proved the Proteas’ undoing as the Aussies swung the willow merrily, posting a big enough total to win by 62 runs.

With Ryan McLaren ruled out with a hairline wrist fracture after being struck by Mitchell Johnson, it leaves a hole in the bowling that could become a rift valley with news of Morné Morkel possibly out of today’s match.

Team doctor Mohammed Moosajee confirmed that Morkel’s shoulder injury had worsened over the course of the series.

“MRI scans have been done on his right shoulder and have confirmed an aggravation of a pre-existing rotator cuff tear which has worsened because of his current workload.”

Compounding the Proteas’ worries is batsman JP Duminy – also on the endangered list with a knee problem.

“JP and Morné have been managed through the last few games by physio Brandon Jackson but with their injuries worsening, they could be doubtful for today,” said Moosajee.

However, with Faf du Plessis in the form of his life with three centuries in his four matches, the number three slot in the Protea batting seems to have been cemented by him at a vital time ahead of the World Cup.

He has been the lone ranger of the Protea batting in the last two matches but so fickle is the nature of the game, his rich sequence is always under threat of ending at the most inopportune time.

Then what? If Duminy is out it leaves Rilee Rossouw who finally got international ODI runs behind his name against Zimbabwe, De Villiers who always seems to have the burden of making runs squarely on his shoulders and David Miller who desperately needs time at the crease. All these players are in the team because they are the best we have and surely, one, two or all of them will click into gear.

Skipper AB de Villiers remains confident in his charges though. “Winning this tournament is our focus and it will go a long way toward our World Cup preparation,” he said. “Each game we win is important to our ODI ranking … We would like to go into the tournament ranked one or two.”

Today’s match is telecast on SuperSport 2 from 9.15 am.

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