Tahir still SA's No 1 as Shamsi thrives

Imran Tahir (Getty Images)
Imran Tahir (Getty Images)

Johannesburg - With plans to win the 2019 World Cup in England now fully underway, the Proteas brains trust will be devoting 2018 to experimention in an attempt to find their best combinations ahead of that tournament.

That much was confirmed by convenor of selectors Linda Zondi, who on Thursday was made to explain the decision to drop Farhaan Behardien from the squad for the first three ODIs against India, while the uncapped Khaya Zondo gets a chance. 

On franchise form this season, Behardien has out-performed Zondo, but Zondi explained that this is the time to give opportunities to those players who are on the fringes of the ODI set-up. 

Another man who will be looking to prove himself before 2019 is spinner Tabraiz Shamsi.

The 27-year-old has been head and shoulders above the rest in this year's One Day Cup for the Titans. 

After nine matches, he is the tournament's leading wicket-taker with 27 at an average of just 14.84

To put that into perspective, the next highest wicket taker is Sisanda Magala with 17.

Imran Tahir, Shamsi's competition for the Proteas spot, has taken 13 wickets at an average of 22.69

On current form, it is hard to ignore Shamsi, but Zondi says that Tahir remains South Africa's first-choice. 

Tahir is, after all, the second ranked bowler in ODI cricket, but the 38-year-old has been nowhere near his destructive best this domestic season. 

"Anything can happen on the day and Shamsi will definitely come into the picture, but I think for now Tahir is still our number one spinner," Zondi said.

Another option is Test spinner Keshav Maharaj, who has long been tipped to be a valuable member of the ODI squad. 

With additions to the squad expected after the first three ODIs against India, the left-armer might get his chance then with Zondi confirming that there would be players rested and rotation.

"There are a couple of spinners that we need to look at," Zondi said.

"Maharaj is another candidate that is part and parcel of our plans. He bowls and he bats. We need to look at what Shamsi can do but also see how we can bring in Maharaj."

The first ODI against India takes place on February 1 in Durban.


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