South Africa has recalled maverick spinner Imran Tahir (36) and off-spin bowler Dane Piedt (25) for the Test side which will tour India in November whereas Quinton De Kock (22) was surprisingly left out.
While Tahir’s selection is understandable thanks to his experience of playing in Indian conditions (for Delhi Daredevils in IPL 8), Peidt may have been called in because of the fact that South Africa need an army of spinners to conquer India in their own den.
Piedt performed outstandingly in his Test debut against Zimbabwe at Harare in 2014 (it has been his lone Test match so far) which saw him bag eight wickets in the entire game.
If the Cape Town born player could produce such a brilliant performance on debut (despite the reality of Zimbabwe being no goliaths!), one can imagine what havoc he could wreck on the spinning tracks of India!
Tahir on the other hand is a gem of a spinner who cannot be read easily by opposition batsmen (evidence is his dismantling of Sri Lanka in the 2015 World Cup quarter-final at Sydney) and should be more than a handful for India in their own backyard.
Add to the mix JP Duminy’s handy spin (he took a hat-trick in that memorable game) and South Africa do have a competitive spin-line up geared up for the Indians.
As for De Kock’s non-inclusion, two limited overs and one List-A century during South Africa A’s recent sojourn to India has not been enough to warrant him a place in the Test team, with selectors opting for the unknown Dane Vilas (30).
While critics will point out that omitting an ‘ODI specialist’ like De Kock from the Test team is the right decision, the Johannesburg lad definitely has the talent to shine in the longer format of the game as well.
Even his recent ton against India ‘A’ at Wayanad had all the trappings of a world class knock.
Vilas’ (who skippered the ‘A’ team) selection could proved to be a bit dicey and Hashim Amla’s South Africa could definitely have benefited with De Kock.
That is not to mention that Vilas is any mug with the bat but yet De Kock definitely has been given a raw deal considering his great show on Indian soil recently.
Add to that his experience of playing in the IPL (for Delhi Daredevils in IPL 8) and his know how of Indian conditions (thanks to the recent sojourn).
Vilas is already 30, and apart from two half-centuries, he has had an average time with South Africa ‘A’ recently and is surely not a better stroke-maker than De Kock.
That De Kock is sprightly only gives him the edge over Vilas.
If Vilas really delivers the goods during the upcoming India series and proves the selectors right, then he may well be en-route to cementing his place as a Test team regular for the Proteas.
Coming to Tahir and Piedt, the selectors seemed to have rightly picked two good spinners for the tour as the former’s experience of playing in Indian conditions will definitely aid the latter.
Peidt had a good sojourn with the South Africa ‘A’ side to India recently and even ended up with two five-wicket hauls.
He is definitely a good pick by the selectors and a good performance in India will pave the way for him to cement a permanent place in the Test team.
As for the rest of the South African team, Ab De Villiers will undoubtedly aim to unleash himself on the Indians like the way he did in IPL 8 for Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Aaron Phangiso (31) and medium-pacer Reeza Hendricks (26) have been given the boot from the Test squad, with the former’s non inclusion coming as a surprise with him being a left-arm spinner who can be of immense value in Indian conditions.
The batting bulwarks of course are Amla, De Villiers, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, and all-rounder Morne Morkel.
Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn will be expected to unleash raw pace on India whereas others like Kagiso Rabada, Temba Bavuma , Dean Elgar, Simon Harmer and Stiaan van Zyl will be expected to pull their weights and deliver.
As the sojourn inches closer, Amla and his band of men will try and win South Africa’s first Test series in India since 1999.
With a world class batting line-up and the likes of Steyn and Tahir to lead the bowling, cricket buffs can expect some real fireworks when the Proteas lock horns with the Indians, spanning over 72 days.