The Indian team is yet to play the 3rd one day of the ongoing tour and the South African board has already announced the squad for the test series. South Africa is the number one team in tests for a couple of years running and the recent series against Pakistan in the UAE is the only one that it has not won. The selectors have persisted with the same squad that did duty in the 2 tests over there. The hallmark of any great side is its consistency and South Africa is no exception either. They have chosen a commendably strong squad and here’s the role that each member will be likely to play:
Graeme Smith: The skipper will play a major role with the bat and it shall also be his responsibility to plan the decimation of India and further cement South Africa’s position atop the table. He could also have to perform the onerous task of playing out Shami and Zaheer.
Hashim Amla: He will most probably bat at 3-4 and will have the responsibility of piling on the agony or stemming the rot. He will also play a major role in silly point or the other close-in catching positions.
AB de Villiers: With him playing as a batsman South Africa have the luxury of using someone like Faf du Plessis or JP Duminy in the lower middle order to bolster their already strong batting. Apart from his steady keeping, he will be expected to offer Smith some valuable advice as and when needed.
JP Duminy: In the series against Pakistan in the UAE he played an allround role – batting at no. 6 and bowling some off-spin to complement Imran Tahir and Robin Peterson. He can be expected to play a similar role yet again.
Faf du Plessis: Faf will most likely bat at no.s 5 to 7 and shepherd the lower middle order. If South Africa go in with four fast bowlers, which is most likely to happen, his part-time leg-spin could come in really handy.
Dean Elgar: He has a very good record in first class cricket and comes across as a competent batsman. It is unlikely though that he will be chosen for any of the games provided the main batsmen are fit and firing.
Imran Tahir: He has been a champion leggie for the Proteas in the last series against Pakistan at UAE. However, given the conditions around the country as well as South Africa’s propensity to select an all pace attack against Indians, who are not too comfortable against it, there is a possibility that he may not be chosen.
Jacques Kallis: The greatest allrounder in the world will bat at no. 3 and also be the fourth of fifth seamer given the make-up of the South African first eleven.
Rory Kleinveldt: His selection over other contenders like Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Ryan McLaren and Wayne Parnell is surprising given that he has not played much for South Africa in the recent past. However, he could make a comeback if the Proteas opt for a 4 man pace pack. In that case his role will be that of a holding seamer.
Morne Morkel: The tallest fast bowler in South Africa, the younger Morkel will be given the role of demolition man thanks to his ability to always extract disconcerting bounce coupled with raw pace as and when he wishes to.
Alviro Petersen: Together with skipper Graeme Smith, he will be expected to provide good starts for the team so that they can press on and win the 2 test series with a comfortable margin.
Robin Peterson: He is a valuable member of the South African team with his tight left arm bowling, good fielding and combative batting. However, of late South Africa has preferred Tahir to him and that trend is likely to continue in this series as well unless the need arises in the form of an injury.
Vernon Philander: He has a record that is second to none and operates as a purveyor of teasing line and length with just the right amount of swing in either direction. He will be the workhorse of the team and complement his explosive partners Steyn and Morkel.
Dale Steyn: The best fast bowler in the world is capable of going on all-out attack or just holding back and making it really tight for the batsmen to get any proper momentum. He can be expected to perform a more aggressive role against India though.
Thami Tsolekile: He is the best pure wicketkeeper in South Africa but his skills in front of the stump are not at the same level, or at least he does not have the statistics to back them up. This is the reason he has not played a test in spite of being with the test team for the last couple of years. It is unlikely that he will play in this series as well unless AB de Villiers suffers an injury.