The Proteas’ willingness to adapt is in the spotlight following Thursday night’s comprehensive six-wicket loss to India in the first ODI at Kingsmead.
Despite eventually bowing the knee to Virat Kohli’s brilliance with the bat, the hosts lost their way earlier when they lost five wickets to the wrist-spinning duo of Yazvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.
The left-armed Yadav was particularly effective, grabbing excellent figures of 3/34.
Given their success, it was hardly surprising that there were questions in the aftermath over South Africa’s wisdom in not taking advantage of Tabraiz Shamsi’s red-hot form.
The Titans tweaker took an incredible 26 wickets in nine matches in the domestic One-day Cup.
But Proteas captain Faf du Plessis insists Shamsi and Imran Tahir, the first-choice spinner, won’t play in the same XI in South Africa.
“We never play two spinners in South Africa,” he said.
“I understand that’s maybe a tactic that India will use, especially in slow conditions. We don’t do that here.”
That sentiment is probably understandable at inland venues such as the Wanderers and Centurion, where quicks benefit more yet there seems a good case for a review of that strategy on the coast’s drier, slower surfaces.
Instead, Du Plessis just hopes Tahir finds his mojo quickly after an off-day in Durban.
“It’s no secret, if Imran bowls well then he’s our wicket-taker in the middle of the innings. He does what the Indian spinners did here. India played him really well,” he said.
“But I’ve also seen Imran bowl well to these guys in the IPL. He generally doesn’t go two or three games without taking a wicket.”
Similarly, Du Plessis hopes the middle order doesn’t take too long to get used to India’s wrist spinners though he concedes that sometimes it does take a game or two.
What he is convinced about though is that the Proteas’ spinners are the right men for the job as both Shamsi and Tahir are also wrist-spinners.
“The game is moving towards wrist-spinners because they have the ability to pick up wickets and that’s what the Indians did. We’ll discuss the things were picked up,” said Du Plessis.