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South Africa spinning a web around rivals

india Updated: Mar 25, 2011 00:32 IST
Nilankur Das
Nilankur Das
Hindustan Times
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The reason behind South Africa qualifying for the quarterfinals from Group B with one match to spare has been their bowling. Even in the match against India — where the hosts were off to a flying start and, at one point, looked good for a score in excess of 350 — their bowlers, led by Dale Steyn, brought them back into the game as India lost nine wickets for 29 runs.

South Africa now have the record of dismissing every side they have played against so far in the group, and the key to their success has been their three frontline spinners — Robin Peterson, Johan Botha and Imran Tahir — and the fringe ones, Jean-Paul Duminy and Faf du Plessis. Together they have taken 33 of the 56 wickets claimed by South Africa in the six matches so far.

With the Sher-e Bangla Stadium wicket likely to assist spin right from the outset — and with the ball unlikely to come on — the South African slow bowlers will hope to do most of the damage. Left-arm spinner Peterson and leg-spinner Tahir have already shared 26 wickets among themselves, with the latter playing just four matches.

"The great thing is that both our spinners and pacers have become our strengths. There's a bit of subtlety and variation and we can adapt to all sets of play. We can mix it up and we can attack. I think the key is bowling well in partnerships. Our strength used to be seam but now we have added a lot of variation to our bowling, which has been exciting," skipper Graeme Smith said.

"Our spinners don't get much help back home and for them to be able to come here and execute their skills is very exciting," Smith added.

Vice-captain Botha, who sometimes has been entrusted with the role of opening the bowling, agreed with his captain. "Our three spinners are different from each other. Immy (Tahir) is a very attacking spinner and he has got a lot of wickets. So has Robin (Peterson). I am probably doing a bit of a holding role, controlling from one side and they have been taking wickets, which is really good for us. We know we have world-class spinners and they have done their job so far in the tournament," Botha said.