SA back at full strength

2015-03-06 00:00

JP DUMINY and Vernon Philander are back in the starting line-up, Quinton de Kock will start in his usual role as opening batsman and wicketkeeper while Kyle Abbott will carry the drinks.

This appears to be the game plan for the Proteas ahead of tomorrow’s World Cup group match against Pakistan at Eden Park — a possible dress rehearsal for a semi-final in less than three weeks against New Zealand.

Proteas coach Russell Domingo yesterday confirmed that Duminy and Philander were well on the road to recovery after they missed the matches against the West Indians and Ireland with a side strain and a thigh muscle injury respectively.

In Duminy’s absence Rilee Rossouw scored two half centuries, while Abbott took six wickets — including a career best four wickets against Ireland in Canberra.

“JP and Vernon will undergo fitness tests today [Thursday] but it looks promising. JP is one of our best players and he will immediately be included should he be fit. We will just have to ensure that Vernon is 100% ready because it is dangerous to take a risk with a thigh muscle injury,” said Domingo.

“Vernon is one of the best bowlers in the world when the pitch offers something and judged by the previous games, he will thrive here.

“He places the ball in the right areas to capitalise on any sideways movement which may be present. It definitely counts in his favour.”

According to Domingo, the South Africans will persist with De Kock, who has only scored 27 runs in this year’s tournament and whose place in the starting 11 has raised many questions.

“Of course it is a difficult time for him, especially because he has been so successful during his short international career,” said Domingo.

“This is his big test, but I am not worried about him. He is a world class player and I am convinced his next big innings is just around the corner.”

According to the coach, the South Africans have got their plans all in place for the expected pace war with Pakistani giant Mohammad Irfan.

The 32-year-old left-hand bowler, who stands 2,16 m tall, has been one of the most impressive bowlers at the tournament and is the biggest headache facing the Proteas.

“It is almost impossible to prepare yourself to face someone like him, because there is no one in world cricket as tall as he is. Morné [Morkel] is probably the closest to him and in that respect we are lucky because our guys practice against him [Morkel] every day,” said Domingo. “They have a number of excellent bowlers. Wahab Riaz has bowled the fastest delivery (154 km/h) so far at the tournament and we will also have to be wary against him.”

Domingo’s team have already booked a place in the quarter-finals — perhaps against the loser of Sunday’s Group A match between Australia and Sri Lanka — and if successful could return to Eden Park for a semi-final against the Black Caps.

“This is a distinct possibility but at this stage we do not think in advance. Pakistan are a dangerous team and the only predictable thing about them is their unpredictability,” said Domingo.

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