Pak vs SA – South Africa to make ‘brave calls’ as focus turns to spin in subcontinent conditions


On surfaces Mark Boucher thinks are being prepared for turn, he confirmed SA will play more than one spinner in Karachi

South Africa are set to make what coach Mark Boucher called “brave calls,” in deviating from their usual seamer-focused approach to a more spinner-based set-up for the subcontinent. On surfaces Boucher thinks are being prepared for turn, he confirmed that South Africa will “definitely play more than one spinner,” in the Karachi Test.

“We always revert back to our seaming options because that’s what we get grown up to think,” Boucher said. “But if it looks like it’s going to turn, we must make the right selections and make good cricket calls. I encourage an open mindset rather than going back to the norm. It’s a two-match series, so we can’t go one down and have regrets that we should have played an extra spinner. We’ve got to make the call right now. We’re coming with a mindset that if we want to win a series away from home, we’ve got to make a couple of brave calls.”

South Africa have taken three spinners and nine seamers to Pakistan. Kagiso Rabada, who missed the home Tests against Sri Lanka with a groin injury, is set to return, even though Boucher does not think reverse swing will play a big role in this series.

“We spoke about reverse swing but having gone to the ground only recently, we found the outfield was very green and quite moist. I don’t know how big a weapon reverse swing is going to be,” Boucher said. “The conditions are going to be proper subcontinent conditions and I don’t think there will be a lot of assistance for seamers.”

That will mean South Africa will have to decide if they think Anrich Nortje’s pace will be more effective than Lutho Sipamla’s consistency or Lungi Ngidi’s aggression, considering there may only be space for one of the three if Rabada, an allrounder (Wiaan Mulder) and two spinners play. They also have to choose which of the spinners to select and early indications are that the job will be given to Keshav Maharaj, the incumbent, and Tabraiz Shamsi, the wristspinner who has not played a Test since 2018. “Tabraiz has been selected as an attacking, aggressive spinner. If you get given the opportunity to give him a chance in spinning conditions, then why not?” Boucher asked.

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