Proteas spinner Tabraiz Shamsi celebrates the wicket of Dasun Shanaka during the second T20 International against Sri Lanka. Picture: Pradeep Dambarage/BackpagePix
Proteas spinner Tabraiz Shamsi celebrates the wicket of Dasun Shanaka during the second T20 International against Sri Lanka. Picture: Pradeep Dambarage/BackpagePix

Proteas spin arsenal can fight fire with fire on turning tracks

By Stuart Hess Time of article published Sep 12, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG - From bowling lots of spin, to improved play by the batsmen against spin, South Africa is rapidly embracing an aspect of the game that previously didn’t appeal to the macho manner in which previous generations of Proteas teams played.

It’s far too early to know if it will eventually lead to some tournament silverware, but it's a step in the right direction for the Proteas, and certainly one appreciated by Tabraiz Shamsi.

ALSO READ: Proteas spinners put down T20 World Cup marker with Sri Lanka series win

The left arm wrist spinner, has taken 28 wickets in 16 T20 Internationals this year, at an average of 11.89, an economy rate of 5.45 and a strike rate of a wicket every 13 balls.

He is very much the Proteas primary weapon - but importantly not the only one. “We are bowling so many overs of spin, because we have that many quality spinners. So that’s been very nice,” he said following South Africa’s nine-wicket win against Sri Lanka in the second T20 International on Sunday, which wrapped up the series one match to play.

“Maybe in the past when we got spinning wickets, we may have had a reluctance to pick spinners, so that is a refreshing change. We are picking teams according to the conditions and we have the players to back it up.”

Shamsi finished with 3/20 in four overs, and once more, stand-in captain Keshav Maharaj, made liberal use of every spin option at his disposal. Aiden Markram’s part-time off-spin got through a full set of overs as well, with Maharaj saying it was a specific ploy targeting the left-handed batsmen in the home team’s line-up. All three of Markram’s wickets were left-hand batsmen.

“Aiden was unbelievable again today, taking three wickets and making runs. It was definitely a bonus for us,” said Shamsi.

With South Africa anticipating the T20 World Cup to be played on worn out tracks following usage in the Indian Premier League and then the first round of the T20 World Cup, it’s an understandable strategy.

It also demands that South Africa’s batsmen be prepared to play spin better than has been the case in the past, and but for a meltdown in the last One-Day International against Sri Lanka, there appears to have been major improvement with the bat.

“Obviously Sri Lanka has prepared spinning wickets, thinking that we have a weakness,” said Shamsi. “Maybe in the past we did, but the boys have been putting in a lot of work behind the scenes, over the past couple of months.

“We have the capability of fighting fire with fire. It's the kind of wickets we might get at the World Cup, so it's very good to have the extra option, whether it be in the power play, or in the middle overs.”

The final match of the series will be played on Tuesday.

@shockerhess

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