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Pace-heavy Proteas may use spinners as their main weapon

cricket Updated: Feb 11, 2011 23:50 IST
Nikhilesh Bhattacharya
Nikhilesh Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times
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When an out-an-out fast bowler starts talking about the importance of spinners, you get a fair indication of what the team's bowling strategy will be. Or at least, what the team wants the world to think.

"You know, on sub-continent pitches, the spinners can be your striking bowlers. So if we can keep the pressure on early, the spinners can get and play the striking role," South Africa's Morne Morkel told reporters at an open session on Friday morning.

Morkel and Dale Steyn form one of the best new-ball partnerships in contemporary cricket with both operating at well above 140 kmph. So, do South Africa still need spinners, even after Morkel reiterated "there is no substitution for pace, ask any batsmen"?

Yes, according to AB de Villiers, the wicketkeeper-batsman who is one of only three South Africa players to have taken part in a World Cup before this one. "We've got three specialist spinners," de Villiers echoed his captain Graeme Smith's line when asked about the team's strategy for a tournament they've never won. He was full of praise for Imran Tahir, the leg-spinner, who is "sure to play an important role for us in the World Cup".

So, why was Tahir kept on the bench during the recent one-day series against India? De Villiers said it had to do with what was required to win the series. "We were playing one of the top sides in the world. The 3-2 series win means a lot to us. It is just that at that point there was no spot for Imran."

South Africa played Johan Botha and Robin Peterson, in the series against India. So, Tahir can make it to the XI only if Smith decides to use spin as a weapon, which they say they will. Saturday's warm-up match against Zimbabwe may throw up a few more hints.