St George’s Park hardly strikes you as the ideal place for South Africa to extend their stay on “life support” during the six-match, one-day international series against India.
Yes, there was a noticeable crashing to earth of the Indian wrist spinners, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, in Saturday’s five-wicket reverse to the Proteas at the Wanderers that kept the series alive at 3-1 in the visitors’ favour and two to play.
But considering their earlier, profound mastery of the South African batsmen over the course of games one to three, Chahal and Yadav will be expected to roar back into their own in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday (13:00 start).
The Friendly City traditionally serves up slow, turning and often abrasive surfaces so, despite the welcome signs of resurgence from the Proteas in the curtailed Johannesburg fixture, India will warrant “favorites” status for clinching a maiden ODI series triumph on our soil at St George’s Park.
They were going great guns at the Bullring before an untimely interruption to their innings after taking the first strike there, and the significant reduction in overs meant that previously fragile SA was left hunting more of a Twenty20 type of total – even if they reached it in hearteningly clinical, power-striking fashion.
Both Chahal and Yadav were suddenly subjected to some major “tap” as various Proteas batsmen opted for attack as the best form of defense against their wiles, with productive consequences.
Expect the St George’s Park strip to be less true than the Highveld one, presenting a renewed chance for the pair to examine the Proteas’ technical competence and reading of deliveries.
That said, the host nation will need to get their own bowling ducks in a fitting row for PE, almost certainly meaning at least one vacancy will have to be created, from their Wanderers winning XI, for a specialist spinner of their own.
They went all-pace, as far as frontline bowling was concerned, on Saturday, and it more or less paid off, with JP Duminy chipping in four additional overs of his part-time off-spin.
But even if Duminy effectively gives you about half or more of a slow bowler’s allotment at St George’s Park, expect the Proteas to also acknowledge the need for someone capable of bowling an additional, full quota of 10 overs of slow fare.
Under the circumstances, isn’t it perhaps time for a renewed show of confidence in Tabraiz Shamsi for the job, rather than the already-known qualities of almost 39-year-old Imran Tahir?