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Proteas look to spin their way to WC glory

This South Africa squad has a unique look to it. It has more spinners than pacers, something perhaps never seen in a line-up traditionally dominated by the pacers.

cricket Updated: Jan 13, 2011 23:33 IST
Subhash Rajta

This South Africa squad has a unique look to it. It has more spinners than pacers, something perhaps never seen in a line-up traditionally dominated by the pacers.

While Johan Botha (off spinner), Imran Tahir (leg spinner) and Robin Peterson (left-arm spinner) fill in the specialists' slots, Faf du Plessis is an all rounder who bowls leg-breaks, and J.P. Duminy is more than a part timer with his off breaks.

That so many spinners have been called up for a series at home looks strange, but given that the World Cup is just around the corner, the move looks rational. Yet, all of them may not travel to the Indian sub-continent for the quadrennial event. "Even if all of them don't travel for the World Cup, they could help the batsmen prepare for what they are going to face in the sub-continent," said a coach of a province.

South Africa captain Graeme Smith looks happy with the scenario, especially with the inclusion of "attacking" leg-spinner Imran Tahir. "Having an attacking spinner is something I have dreamed of throughout my captaincy. Johan Botha has been excellent for us, but to have somebody like Imran who can take wickets is wonderful."

But having good spinners is just one part of the jigsaw; one needs batsmen apt at playing spin to complete the picture. South Africa, however, need not worry much on that count. With Hashim Amla at the top and the middle order comprising Jacques Kallis, JP Duminy and AB de Villiers, spin shouldn't worry them much.

The 131-run partnership shared by the AB de Villiers and JP Duminy on Wednesday was a perfect lesson on playing and scoring against spin without taking any risks. "I think we played the spinners really well. We knew that India would bowl at least 25 overs of spin at us, but we had our plans ready," said Smith.