Seam still king for Proteas despite expected worn-out UAE pitches

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Proteas fast bowler Kagiso Rabada celebrates wicket (AFP)
Proteas fast bowler Kagiso Rabada celebrates wicket (AFP)
Randy Brooks / AFP

Despite a glut of slow bowling options, including the premier T20 bowler in the world, Tabraiz Shamsi, the Proteas haven't foregone seam strength for the T20 World Cup.

The UAE pitches, where the Indian Premier League (IPL) resumption is held, have churned low totals and are expected to carry some wear and tear by the start of the T20 World Cup on Sunday.

South Africa went to the Middle East with a team brimming slow bowling options in Shamsi, Keshav Maharaj, Bjorn Fortuin, as well as Aiden Markram's impressive part-timers. George Linde is also among the non-playing reserves if needed.

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However, captain Temba Bavuma said he could not ignore his wealth of seam options either, from stallions Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi, to seaming all-rounders Dwaine Pretorius and Wiaan Mulder.

"We've played with three seamers in our line-up, so in terms of combinations, it won't be too far from that," Bavuma said.

"I think these wickets will also bring our slow bowlers into the game and medium pacers like Dwaine Pretorius and Wiaan Mulder into the mix.

"Depending on the combinations on the day, we'll see how many of the seaming all-rounders we'll retain.

"The nice thing is that all of them can bowl in the Powerplay, the middle, and they've proven they can bowl at the death."

South Africa has won their last three T20 series, beating the defending world champions in the format, the West Indies in the Caribbean, Sri Lanka in the Sub-Continent and Ireland in Dublin.

Their bowling came up trumps when their batting fell short, a facet they might rely heavily on again come their opening game against Australia on 23 October.

Bavuma said the IPL has also offered clues as to how they will negotiate the Middle Eastern wickets.

"I've had the chance to watch the IPL games and looking at the ones played at Sharjah. They are rather interesting," he said.

"Sharjah is known as a high-scoring ground, but the games haven't really played according to expectations.

"The wickets have been tougher for the batter, and guys have to be smart and think on their feet and adjust.

"There's been a lot of traffic on the wickets, but we don't know what state they'll be in, and they could be a bit worn out.

"The biggest thing for us is to assess and adapt as well as we can on the day." 

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