Protea spin twins provide new challenge for Australia

By Staff Reporter - March 2, 2020

The next one-day World Cup in India is still three years away, but Australia’s middle order look set for a preliminary trial by spin in the remaining ODIs on this Qantas Tour of South Africa.

The Proteas fielded two frontline spinners in their 74-run victory in Paarl on Saturday, with the left-arm duo of Tabraiz Shamsi and Keshav Maharaj giving little away in a challenging run chase at Boland Park.

Wrist-spinner Shamsi has been the pick of the South African bowlers on this tour, conceding just six runs an over in the three-match T20 series and taking 2-45 in the first ODI.

He’s enjoyed the best of an intriguing battle with Steve Smith over the past week, keeping the star Australian batsmen to a strike rate of just 80 in the T20s and dismissing him in the first match of the tour in Johannesburg.

Smith was Australia’s top scorer in Saturday’s loss with a 94-ball knock of 76 and conceded he again found the wrist spinner difficult to get away, managing only singles and twos off his bowling.

“Shamsi did what he was doing through the T20s … bowling that really straight line and almost just letting us to hit to the leg side,” he said.

“I don’t think we barely hit a ball on the off side. (He) just bowled really straight, blocked out that one side and (was) patient.

“He’s not trying to get you out, he’s just trying to stem the flow and make you make a mistake. To be fair, he did it pretty well in the T20s and did it well again (in Paarl).”

Smith is no stranger to Maharaj either, the finger-spinner who has dismissed the world’s top Test batsman three times in five Tests and who played just his fifth ODI on Saturday.

The left-armer couldn’t add to that tally at Boland Park but he certainly played his role in partnership with Shamsi, finishing with 1-48 from his 10 overs.

“It wasn’t an easy wicket to play spin on,” Smith said.

“Maharaj bowled some balls that really gripped and spun and a couple skidded on. It actually felt somewhat like an Indian wicket or a subcontinent wicket, so it was quite difficult to time the ball.

“I think we saw a lot of batters hitting fielders tonight, probably more than we have done previously and it was getting a bit frustrating at times.”

Smith and Marnus Labuschagne are among Australia’s better players of spin and look set to form the bedrock of their batting order at the next World Cup in India, where spin normally plays a major role in the middle overs.

And Smith said the way Australia’s batsmen play spin has been and will continue to be a major focus in one-day cricket.

“Sometimes in India in the middle overs you get absolute belting wickets and you can just hit through the line and there’s not too much spin,” he said.

“On other occasions it can hold and it can spin. You need to be adaptable and play to the conditions.

“A pretty big focus for us for a while (has been) the spin in the middle overs and being able to play the right way.

“Marnus and I were going alright for a while there, we weren’t too far behind the rate and trying to take it as a deep as we could.

“Sometimes you just get a little bit edgy and feel like you need to take a risk and unfortunately whenever we did that, it didn’t really come off.”

Australia head to Bloemfontein for the second game of the series on Wednesday before the third at final match in Potchefstroom on Saturday.

Courtesy: Cricket Australia

By Staff Reporter

Related Articles