Tahir doubtful, Proteas to bank on pace attack | india | Hindustan Times
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Tahir doubtful, Proteas to bank on pace attack

South African teams are not known to rely on individual performances --- least of all a spinner. Imran Tahir is not exactly enacting the role of a one-man army, but his influence on the bowling attack is unmistakable.

india Updated: Mar 12, 2011 00:52 IST
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal

South African teams are not known to rely on individual performances --- least of all a spinner. Imran Tahir is not exactly enacting the role of a one-man army, but his influence on the bowling attack is unmistakable.

South Africa have the most balanced attack in the competition but the fulcrum has undoubtedly been the leg-spinner. After years of relying on pacemen, South Africa have stumped opponents with a spin-centric attack, and Tahir has been instrumental in the successful shift of strategy.

However, an injury to their highest wicket-taker's left-thumb in the last game has sent South Africa's game-plan haywire for the big clash against India.

With Tahir applying pressure in the middle overs with his aggressive leg-spin, part timers Robert Peterson, Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy played their part. But against India's strong players of spin, depending on part-timers is fraught with risk.

Opening with the left-arm-spin of Peterson proved to be a masterstroke against England's Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Strauss, but he is likely to be a sitting duck against Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar.

Botha to come in
Johan Botha can be Tahir's ideal replacement but he doesn't have a great record against India batsmen. The two teams played against each other so much in the South African summer that strengths and weaknesses are apparent. Playing his debut tournament, Tahir would have been the sole surprise element.

South Africa would take a call on playing Tahir on Saturday morning, but in all probability the think-tank will again rely on the tested pace arsenal.

The fans can brace up for a battle between the world's most exciting pace pair of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel against the most successful opening combination of Sachin Tendulkar and Sehwag.

Asked about the bowling plan, Smith preferred to keep his cards close to the chest. "We have a few things up our sleeve, we are difficult to plan against. We have the options and I would not like to tell them today. This is the ground where our bowlers have had success against India - we had a successful Test win. We've spent a month of our life in Nagpur. So we know well. It is obviously going to be a wonderful occasion and we are excited about it."

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