DURBAN - Even without the services of injured captain Faf du Plessis, and the rested Kagiso Rabada, South Africa’s T20 international squad should have sufficient firepower to blow Bangladesh out of the water in their two-match series, which starts at the Mangaung Oval on Thursday (6pm start).
JP Duminy will deputise for Du Plessis, who is expected to recover from a lower back injury in time for the four-day Test against Zimbabwe, and the experience of Hashim Amla returns at the top of the order in a side brimming with quality and experience. The tourists have been blown away by the top-order of SA, and they look set to be put to the sword once more.
By all accounts, this T20 series was supposed to be a final tune-up for most of these stars for the start of the T20 Global League, but it is now an opportunity to thump out that frustration, and look forward to the T20 Challenge, which starts in a fortnight.
Where Ottis Gibson will be observing closely is in his bowling department, without the services of Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel and Chris Morris. Lungi Ngidi’s comeback came a week or two too late for consideration, and his extra speed would have been very useful against the papadum Bangladesh top-order.
At the Wanderers on Monday, Ngidi looked good. Really good, in fact, as he built up a head of steam, and then explained that he wasn’t even straining himself in the process. That news will have filtered through to the selectors and coach Gibson, but that will not matter now.
At Gibson’s disposal in Bloemfontein, are the likes of Dane Paterson, Beuran Hendricks, Andile Phehlukwayo and Robbie Frylinck in the seam department. The ascension of Frylinck to the national team was welcomed warmly by observers of the domestic game.
Few have performed as consistently as the burly KwaZulu-Natal all-rounder has for the Dolphins over the past few seasons. He gives it a good bunt with the bat, and his tactical nous with the ball means he will be a very good option at the death.
Frylinck is also as tenacious a competitor as you can find in SA cricket. No cause is a lost one, and his call-up alone has galvanised him and those who feel they are on the wrong side of 30. If he gets a chance to shine, you can be sure that he will not go down wondering.
The likes of Paterson and Hendricks will need to strike with the new ball in Rabada’s absence, or else the matches could descend into a shoot-out between the respective top-orders.
What will also be interesting is which spinner gets the nod between 33-year-old Aaron Phangiso and 27-year-old Tabraiz Shamsi.
Both offer their own, unique set of skills, but given the unpredictable nature of the seam bowlers, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the more experienced and cunning Phangiso gets first bite.