What should the Proteas starting XI look like?

Kagiso Rabada (Getty Images)
Kagiso Rabada (Getty Images)

Cape Town - The warm-ups are done and dusted and now the Proteas need to settle on their best XI for the ICC Champions Trophy in England. 

South Africa must first get past Sri Lanka (June 3), Pakistan (June 7) and India (June 11) in their group if they are to progress to the semi-finals and challenge for their first piece of major silverware since 1998. 

It is hard to take too much from the recently completed England series, which the Proteas lost 2-1, but with the top order settled the real selection conundrums remain the lower order and allrounders. 

The nature of the wickets before each match will obviously play a role in which way the selectors go, but presuming that most of the wickets will be flat, this is how the Proteas could set up. 

1. Hashim Amla

Scores of 73, 24 and 55 against England followed a highly successful IPL for the 'Mighty Hash'. He has rediscovered his touch and, with Quinton de Kock, forms one of the most dangerous opening partnerships at the tournament. 

2. Quinton de Kock (w/k)

Could very well be South Africa's trump card at the tournament. An exceptionally gifted player with the ability to single-handedly decide the outcome of a game. The Proteas will need their match winners to come good, and De Kock is certainly one of those, especially in the opening powerplay. 

3. Faf du Plessis

Two failures against England, but no worries here. Du Plessis is pure class and exactly the batsman you want coming in at No 3. He is adaptable, which means that he can play any situation. His leadership in the field is also a major plus. 

4. AB de Villiers (captain)

With AB in the team, no target is too high and if he comes off the Proteas will back themselves to win every time. He is desperate for a major trophy and he looks in good touch, which is great news. De Villiers rounds off a top four that is crucial to South Africa's chances. 

5. JP Duminy

Many have run out of patience with Duminy already, but the only other option in the squad is Farhaan Behardien. Duminy also offers an option with the ball, but this is the time for him to step up with bat in hand. He's always had the ability, but can he deliver when it matters most?

6. David Miller

Worrying that he couldn't see the Proteas home in the second ODI with Chris Morris, but Miller remains South Africa's finisher. With such a strong top four, the hope is that Miller will always be batting at the back-end of an innings. That is when he is at his most destructive.

7. Chris Morris

This position has been a headache for the Proteas in years past, but Morris has to be the No 7. He can clear the ropes with ease and is a versatile option with the ball, capable of taking wickets up front and bowling at the death. 

8. Wayne Parnell

Looks to have secured his place alongside Rabada as South Africa's new ball bowler. While Morne Morkel is the obvious alternative, having Parnell in the lower order provides extra depth with the bat.

9. Andile Phehlukwayo

So hard to choose between Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorius, but Phehlukwayo has been backed more consistently in the months leading up to the tournament. He is a touch expensive and was taken to the cleaners in the second ODI, but his variation with the ball keeps him an attractive option.

10. Kagiso Rabada

A breath of fresh air seeing him clean up the English top order at Lord's in the third ODI. The conditions helped, but even on the flat wickets Rabada is lethal. He also gets up for the big games, and his fire at the top of the innings can help get South Africa on the front foot early. 

11. Imran Tahir

Keshav Maharaj looked good in the two ODIs he was given against England, but Tahir is the man. The Proteas are unlikely to ever play both, and in Tahir they have a proven wicket-taker who can swing a match in an instant. 

Do you agree with this Proteas XI? Tweet us @Sport24news to let us know ...

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