In a spin over bowlers

2014-07-24 00:00

HASHIM Amla leads the Proteas for a second time today as they go into the second Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo.

Already one-nil up in the two-Test series, the Proteas want to finish the tour in style, yet a dilemma hangs over their heads. It relates to their bowling options.

Contrary to what the sub-continent offers, the Proteas’ pace attack did the business in Galle last week. Dale Steyn finished with 9-99 for the match and Morne Morkel 7-78.

Specialist spinner Imran Tahir was there, but went unnoticed in claiming a solitary scalp and conceding 139 runs. In comparison, Sri Lanka spinners Dilruwan Perera and Rangana Herath bagged 11 of the 15 Protea wickets to fall.

It has left the Protea camp mulling the option of sticking with a winning combination or bringing in an extra dose of pace. This on a Colombo track that seems to offer less favourable spin conditions than Galle. With that in mind, it’s a sobering thought to consider how Tahir will perform, if selected, when in favourable conditions he never looked a threat.

JP Duminy was the second spinning option to Tahir in Galle and, on the back of his century, will definitely walk out today.

Yesterday, Amla hinted that it was highly unlikely the Proteas would field two spinners this time around.

“It doesn’t look like we will go in with two specialist spinners. On Galle’s wicket, we could afford that. Here in Colombo, the wicket traditionally does not turn early so the quicks come into play.”

With that in mind, Amla hoped his quicks — Steyn, Morkel and Vernon Philander — had recovered from what he termed “a physically demanding Test”.

“I haven’t had a look at the wicket yet. This will determine how we go into today’s match,” said Amla.

“Our fast bowlers have always done the job for us, regardless of where we play. We want to play quality cricket for five days and go for the win. We may be ahead in the series, but we start with a clean slate today.”

If the Proteas win or draw in Colombo, it will be their first Test series win on the island since 2003, when Kepler Wessels was in charge.

Other than the bowling options, the team should remain unchanged, with Quinton de Kock still doing duty behind the stumps for AB de Villiers. The youngster had an encouraging performance in Galle with the bat and other than dropping dangerman Kumar Sangakkara, looked comfortable behind the stumps.

If Tahir fails to make the side today, it could give another opportunity to Dolphins pace exponent Kyle Abbott.

The match is telecast on SuperSport 2 from 6 am.

Imran Tahir stats:

Test Matches 14

Wkts 37, Avg 45,67,

BBI 5-32, BBM 8-130,

Econ 3,50, Strike Rate 78,1

ODI Matches 16

Wkts 32 Avg 17,68,

BBM 4-38, Econ 4,37,

Strike Rate 24,2.

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