Selection poser for Proteas

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South Africa look set to make two changes to their bowling attack for the second Test against India starting at Kingsmead. Photo by Duif du Toit

South Africa look set to make two changes to their bowling attack for the second Test against India starting at Kingsmead in Durban on Thursday, with Morné Morkel highly unlikely to play due to a twisted ankle and Imran Tahir unable to inspire much confidence at the moment.

Morkel’s Grade 1 ligament tear means he will almost certainly not be available for the second Test barring medical miracles and his absence will make for an interesting selection poser when it comes to who will replace him.

Will the selectors hand a call-up to Rory Kleinveldt, who is next in line based on his presence in the original 15-man squad named for the series?

The selectors would obviously like to protect their reputation for being consistent in their decision-making, but there is a solid argument for them to bypass Kleinveldt and opt for another strike bowler in Kyle Abbott.

The 26-year-old Dolphins paceman will, of course, be playing on his home ground and his current form is excellent based on his haul of 5/34 in 20 overs against the Highveld Lions in Potchefstroom this weekend.

And there is also little doubt about his ability to step up to the highest level after he took 7/29 in his debut innings against Pakistan at Centurion in February.

“I would go for Abbott, it’s his home ground, he’s in-form and we know he can bowl at this level,” bowling guru Robin Jackman told Independent Newspapers yesterday. “Rory might be a more like-for-like replacement for Morné in terms of hitting the pitch hard back-of-a-length, while Kyle is more like Vernon Philander, bowling a fuller length and moving the ball away.”

Kleinveldt took 3/61 in 27 tidy overs against the Knights at Newlands this weekend, but his returns have generally been modest this season, with eight wickets at an average of 35.87 in four matches.

Former Zimbabwe seamer Mpumelelo Mbangwa agreed that form should be the most important criterion for the selectors.

“The uppermost factor for me is form, especially considering that whoever comes in will probably just do it for one Test. I’m sure the selectors will talk about whoever’s next in line, but you only know what their form is like if they’re playing. I don’t think the replacement needs to necessarily come from the squad,” Mbangwa said.

It’s no secret that Tahir’s form is poor at the moment and it would seem inevitable that he will only get one Test against India.

He was back to his old problem of bowling one rank delivery an over at the Wanderers and there is little doubt South Africa will turn to Robin Peterson to tie up an end whatever the conditions in Durban.

Dale Steyn is the other bowler who disappointed in the first Test, but it should require just a good video analysis session for the world’s premier fast bowler to return to his best.

Steyn provided far too many scoring opportunities for the Indian batsmen in Johannesburg, mostly because he failed to settle on a length and he also sprayed the ball wide outside off-stump or even down the leg-side far too often.

His match figures of 1/165 is his worst for South Africa in a career spanning 68 Tests and 341 wickets. - Sunday Independent

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