CAPE TOWN – South Africa should not expect AB de Villiers' pending return to be the solution to all their problems against spin, says former Proteas wrist spinner Paul Adams.
De Villiers missed the first three ODI’s against a rampant Indian team with a finger injury but is expected to feature in tomorrow's fourth tie at the Wanderers.
After Wednesday’s 124-run capitulation at Newlands, the Proteas can only level the series now with the visitors just one victory away from re-writing the record books. No Indian team have won an ODI series on South African soil since the two teams first met here in 1992.
It certainly is tough to visualise how South Africa are going to turn around their fortunes in the course of two days. The batting unit has simply been diabolical in countering the spin threat posed by Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav throughout the series.
Equally, the Indian captain Virat Kohli has been in imperious form. He has already struck two centuries in the three matches played to average 318 thus far.
However, even by Kohli’s admission, the surprise package of the series has been India’s two wrist spinners. Not only have Chahal and Yadav claimed 21 of the South African wickets, but they have been miserly in their execution too.
“They are simply not picking them at the moment,” says Adams, who caused similar confusion with his “in-spinners and out-spinners” when he burst on the international scene. “
“The batsmen are not looking to score, there is no intent at the crease because of the fact that they are not reading the ball out of the hand.
“So, they are waiting for the ball to bounce off the pitch to see which way it is going to turn. This affects the decision making process and causes batsmen to be hesitant.”
The sole Proteas batsman to show any form of resolve at Newlands, JP Duminy, concurred with Adams by admitting “we haven’t picked the wrong ‘uns” and stressed that “they’ve assessed conditions better than us and throughout this series so far, we’ve lost wickets in clusters so we haven’t given ourselves a chance”.
Many have faulted the inexperience of South Africa’s youthful middle-order for the collapses, which is why De Villiers' return cannot come soon enough for the Proteas.
Duminy viewed it as a “massive boost” because “he will bring confidence to the team and his leadership within the group will add a lot of value.”
De Villiers’ record in the “Pink ODI”, which tomorrow's match is being billed as due to Cricket South Africa’s annual “Pink Day Campaign” that creates awareness and raises funds for breast cancer, certainly does provide some form of optimism in the home camp.
Adams, though, believes South Africa need more than just De Villiers’ individual brilliance to haul them out of the hole they find themselves in.
“AB can’t make a difference on his own,” he said.
“The team has alluded to the lack of partnerships and that is crucial if they are going to turn things around. A new batsman is being exposed every time.
“There have been opportunities to score off bad balls, but because it is always a new batsman at the crease, they tend to be tentative and miss out. AB’s experience and skill will help, but the other batsmen need to contribute too.”
It is expected that while the selectors are set to be patient with this group of players as they build towards next year’s World Cup, there could be a few more changes than just De Villiers’ inclusion in the starting XI.
Middle-order batsman Farhaan Behardien is expected to come back along with De Villiers, while Morné Morkel should also be taking out his pink kit after being rested at Newlands.
India, meanwhile, have no such worries.
The middle-order may too have misfired in Cape Town, but they are unlikely to tinker for the sake of tinkering and are expected to name the same team for the fourth straight match in a bid to close out the series.