In-form spin-bowling all-rounder George Linde could be welcomed into the Proteas T20 starting XI for the first time on Friday night as South Africa look to play a sixth bowler against a typically high-scoring England team in the first match of the series at Newlands.
South Africa’s last T20 outing was also in Cape Town back in February when they were thumped by 97 runs by Australia to lose the series 2-1. Australia managed to rack up a sizeable 193 for five batting first, and then skittled the Proteas for just 96, with spinners Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa sharing five of the wickets.
One of South Africa’s chief problems that day was that they only had five bowlers – spinner Tabraiz Shamsi was the pick of the attack, but three of the four seamers went for more than 10 runs per over.
Linde, whose left-arm orthodox complements Shamsi’s wrist-spin, has been in great form this season with the bat, so he could comfortably slot in at number six in the order. On what is expected to be another slow Newlands pitch, a second spinner is probably going to be more useful than another paceman.
With Dwaine Pretorius ruled out of the matches against England due to a hamstring strain, Andile Phehlukwayo is likely to return to the side as the lead all-rounder.
Given the importance of making a good start to the season against the powerful English side and the eight months of inactivity for the Proteas team, coach Mark Boucher is likely to defy those calling for a new-look team and IPL stars like Kagiso Rabada, Quinton de Kock, Anrich Nortje and Faf du Plessis will surely feature because they have form and match-fitness on their side.
Lungi Ngidi was outstanding in the T20s South Africa played at the end of last summer and should play on that basis, while Temba Bavuma was also excellent as De Kock’s opening partner and should get the nod, having missed the previous Newlands game because of injury. He would replace Pite van Biljon, while David Miller and Heinrich Klaasen are probably fighting it out for one place in the middle-order.
Probable Proteas XI: Quinton de Kock, Temba Bavuma, Faf du Plessis, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller/Heinrich Klaasen, George Linde, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi.