Pakistan v South Africa 2013-14 October 18, 2013

South Africa need spin solutions

After being tripped up in the first Test against Pakistan, maybe it is time for South Africa to allow Imran Tahir the chance to partner with Robin Peterson
  shares 79

Not more than an hour after South Africa crashed to their first Test defeat away from home in three years, the team was back at the drawing board, working on ways to avoid another. While some of the squad were licking their wounds, Imran Tahir was bowling on the practice pitch.

Hashim Amla, who faced 26.1 overs of spin in the match from Saeed Ajmal and Zulfiqur Babar, was standing where the umpire would be. Adi Birrel, the South African assistant coach, was keeping while Russell Domingo was at square leg. They were all watching very carefully, perhaps looking for a sign that Tahir was generating enough turn to play in the second Test.

But they did not need to be out there to know that. A mere glance at the scorecard should be enough. South Africa's spin department needs propping up after Robin Peterson - who, along with Pakistan keeper Adnan Akmal, was fined 50% of his match fee after the game for a bit of pushing that occurred when Akmal tried to pick up a bail while Peterson was batting - and JP Duminy conceded at 3.89 runs to the over, more than any of their seamers and more than the overall Pakistan run-rate, and only took two wickets, both of them belonging to Duminy.

Peterson, whose 28.5 overs cost 125 runs, was particularly problematic as he struggled to find a consistent line and bowled too many full tosses. Neither posed much of a threat to batsmen who were confident against spin, both in terms of footwork and and in their use of the sweep shot. What South Africa need is someone who can do more - be it hold up an end to allow the seamers to attack or make incisions themselves - and that makes Tahir's inclusion a no-brainer.

His former franchise coach at Titans, Richard Pybus, called his ability to take wickets an asset which makes him a "match-winner", but warned that he needs to be managed carefully if picked. For a start, Pybus is concerned that Tahir has not played regularly in the lead-up to the series. His last first-class match was in February and he did not play any county cricket - a rarity for Tahir - this year. He has played a handful of limited-overs matches, for South Africa in Twenty20s in Sri Lanka and for Lions at the Champions League T20.

"Guys like Imran need to bowl and bowl," Pybus told ESPNcricinfo. "He needs to bowl all year round. He can't get by on a minimum of bowling. He needs to be tougher on himself with regards to how much he must bowl competitively to be ready."

And when he does bowl, he needs to be given clear instructions not to get carried away. "He needs solid game plans and he needs to bowl to the team plan, knowing his role and exactly what is needed at each stage of the game. It's not just about waiting to clean up the tail, he needs to control the game for the skipper when he is needed to. He can do it, but he needs to adhere to it. Martin van Jaarsveld and Pierre Joubert [both former captains] at Titans were very firm with him and it helped him to keep his game plan and focus."

Tahir showed signs of the recklessness that can come from not being under orders when he bowled in the practice match in Sharjah. His first spell was an assortment of unnecessary variation, dotted with half-volleys and bereft of a plan. He returned for a more disciplined second spell, bowling a consistent length and frequently using the googly as well. Although he did not get any wickets, he did beat the bat on several occasions. Should he be able to replicate that, he could provide South Africa with a viable spin option for the second Test.

The coaching staff's actions suggest Tahir will play but Graeme Smith hinted at minimal change, although he admitted there was a concern in the spin department. "If I said no, it would be lie," Smith said, but then moved quickly to quell thoughts of South Africa making drastic adjustments to an XI that has only lost once in the last 16 Tests.

"People have bad games and we need to work on the people and the personnel and give them the best opportunity to do well. My focus as a leader is to work with those guys that have taken a bit of a knock in confidence. Tactically we need to decide what's the best option. It's a must-win game. We need to look at how we set up bowlers to take 20 wickets."

Pybus, although he would like to see the "frontliner get it right" mentioned something else which could be a solution Smith will be interested in hearing. "At Titans, Imran used to get 10 wicket hauls to win the game for us," Pybus said. "He and Paul Harris together were a sight to behold. They loved bowling together and were good for each other."

Harris was South Africa's holding spinner for four years before Tahir was picked, and when the team reverted to a containing man, Peterson filled the role. It seemed to be the thinking was that if Harris worked well in conjunction with Tahir, there may be reason to think Peterson could do the same.

It would allow Peterson to go back to the job of keeping an end tight - which he has proved he can do - and leave the attacking to Tahir. "Robbie needs to master his control," Pybus said. "There are no margins in Test cricket, six inches either side of a length is a lot of space for good players of spin. He has a great temperament and is aggressive. He just needs his control sorted out."

The only decision South Africa would then have to make is who to leave out. Pakistan play two specialist spinners alongside only two quicks but its unlikely South Africa will want to leave any of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander or Morne Morkel out. The obvious would be shorten the batting line-up slightly by benching Faf du Plessis, who has struggled in recent Tests.

Should South Africa take that route, it would be the first time since they became World No. 1 that they are deviating from the Kirsten-inspired seven-batsmen strategy and it may be a way for them to move on. Already, the impact of "guru Gary's" absence has been cited as a factor for the defeat.

Both India and South Africa have lost matches in the immediate aftermath of Kirsten's departure but this result should not be read as a blight on Russell Domingo, neither should be seen as a parallel to England's fortunes here in early 2012. This was simply a case of being outplayed, perhaps through some under-preparation and even under-estimation of the opposition.

What South Africa may be interested to know is that England also went into the first Test in the UAE with one spinner: Graeme Swann, and three seamers. They dropped Chris Tremlett in favour of Monty Panesar for the next two Tests. Despite losing them both, Panesar ended up as the leading wicket-taker for England with 14 scalps at 21.57 and two five-fors. If signs are anything to go by, that's one South Africa will look to.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY on | October 21, 2013, 18:43 GMT

    Water under the bridge, but if Smith's catch of the Pak captain was held another 80 runs would have been saved. The same with Kallis standing too far back in the beginning of Paki innings. Under cooked surely, but Faf du Plessis is not up to scratch. Last year when he conned the umpire in one of the home tests against NZ not to give him when he clearly snicked the ball and then laughed about it (he got a 100 as a result), I knew then that the cricketing gods would take revenge. So they have. I predict Mr Du Plessis will again score nothing. Leave him and Morne Morkel out. The latter simply does not learn his lesson and will keep on bowling too short outside off or on the pads with little success. He has also not improved his batting at all and must now be the worst no 11 in test cricket! On a par with the New Zealanders Martin and Danny M. I agree that De Lange must come into the side against India.

  • POSTED BY kevaldedhia813 on | October 21, 2013, 12:46 GMT

    Looking at the pitches, spin is prominent factor. We see new ball is only helpful for first 15 to 20 overs to do the damange. SA is able or not able to play spin is different concept. However SA need to take wickets during the middle overs and it can only be done by good spinners around in team. SA has won much of the matches cos of good batting and class batsman in their side. Good spin bowling is much needed to win to pitches like this or in asian countries.

  • POSTED BY TommytuckerSaffa on | October 21, 2013, 10:28 GMT

    Spin is not the problem here, its batting. We havent played any cricket in over 6 months. Why does SA play so little Test cricket? Its obvious the SA team were hopelessly undercooked.

  • POSTED BY stormy16 on | October 21, 2013, 9:46 GMT

    You cant score 250 in tests and expect to win many games and neither do I think it was to do with SA lack of spin! SA are a pace based attack with 3 of the top 5 bowlers in the world - why on earth would you suddenly try to win games with spin you don't have? If the SA batters got 400 in either innings this would have been a different game and I reckon SA need to concentrate on playing spinners as opposed to trying to spin Pakistan out with two mediocre spinners. Tahir is never going to be a holding spinner and no leg spinner has ever been a holding spinner, so don't play Tahir if you want a holding role, leg spin is not that easy to master and Tahir doesn't have the control to hold. He can take wickets so his role has to be in that area. I reckon SA are underdone from months of no cricket and Pakistan were brilliant and the result showed that but if SA plan to spin out Pak and forget about getting runs against spinners, they will have a problem again.

  • POSTED BY Solid_Snake on | October 20, 2013, 13:53 GMT

    @vigneshmurali :You might wanna think again on 'sometimes'..lol.. This gives an impression of a fluke or Pak loses to low ranked teams all the time which is not the case.When all the teams were getting crushed by England in home & away..We simply outclassed them (3-0)..Same case with SA..World's best team outclassed in just 4 days.& it was no fluke..All credit goes to the bowlers who managed to get 20 wickets on a such track..

  • POSTED BY loki897 on | October 20, 2013, 12:09 GMT

    @Rooman Hamza, in football conditions don't really effect the proceedings unlike in cricket, so please don't compare the two.

  • POSTED BY AKS286 on | October 20, 2013, 7:40 GMT

    Don't create havoc or press panic button for spinners. Peterson is enough. don't forget that SA strength is African deadly Barrage (Steyn, Phil, Morkel, De Lange, Tsotsobe, Abott) which is capable to destroy any fortress anywhere. Spinner havoc sounds like retirement of Warne, Mcgill and Aus's prime moto is to search a spinner and they start dart process, import in meanwhile their batting, bowling, leadership, WK all lost because they concentrated totally on spinners. I'll prefer De Lange instead of tired Morkel. Morkel continuously busy on club & international cricket he needs rest to regain & refresh. De Lange is a power pack nature gifted Pace & bounce which will help in alien condition. With Steyn, De Lange SA will regroup and beat a minnow.

  • POSTED BY on | October 20, 2013, 5:14 GMT

    Pak have a superb edge, does not matter with or without Imran. Pak has an excellent bowling attack and oh my lord cant wait for the dubai track where Ajmal and Babar will throw some beauties. SA needs to restrict Pak under 250 in first innings, if they can do that, they have a better chance of winning because more or less likely Pak will suffer in 3rd or 4th innings which they will play.

  • POSTED BY vigneshmurali on | October 20, 2013, 2:56 GMT

    PAK loses to last rank test nation last month and this month beat the best test playing nation..don take it too hard on yourselves SA these pakis they can outplay the best sometimes,however lookin by past records they gonna get crushed n the next match

  • POSTED BY vatsap on | October 20, 2013, 1:44 GMT

    Don't think Tahir will make a difference to South African prospects. It has to come from their strength which is pace. Pakistan will comfortably tackle Tahir, just the way he was handled by Aussies and other teams earlier. He seems to be a good bowler, but something is amiss and batsmen read him well.

  • POSTED BY on | October 21, 2013, 18:43 GMT

    Water under the bridge, but if Smith's catch of the Pak captain was held another 80 runs would have been saved. The same with Kallis standing too far back in the beginning of Paki innings. Under cooked surely, but Faf du Plessis is not up to scratch. Last year when he conned the umpire in one of the home tests against NZ not to give him when he clearly snicked the ball and then laughed about it (he got a 100 as a result), I knew then that the cricketing gods would take revenge. So they have. I predict Mr Du Plessis will again score nothing. Leave him and Morne Morkel out. The latter simply does not learn his lesson and will keep on bowling too short outside off or on the pads with little success. He has also not improved his batting at all and must now be the worst no 11 in test cricket! On a par with the New Zealanders Martin and Danny M. I agree that De Lange must come into the side against India.

  • POSTED BY kevaldedhia813 on | October 21, 2013, 12:46 GMT

    Looking at the pitches, spin is prominent factor. We see new ball is only helpful for first 15 to 20 overs to do the damange. SA is able or not able to play spin is different concept. However SA need to take wickets during the middle overs and it can only be done by good spinners around in team. SA has won much of the matches cos of good batting and class batsman in their side. Good spin bowling is much needed to win to pitches like this or in asian countries.

  • POSTED BY TommytuckerSaffa on | October 21, 2013, 10:28 GMT

    Spin is not the problem here, its batting. We havent played any cricket in over 6 months. Why does SA play so little Test cricket? Its obvious the SA team were hopelessly undercooked.

  • POSTED BY stormy16 on | October 21, 2013, 9:46 GMT

    You cant score 250 in tests and expect to win many games and neither do I think it was to do with SA lack of spin! SA are a pace based attack with 3 of the top 5 bowlers in the world - why on earth would you suddenly try to win games with spin you don't have? If the SA batters got 400 in either innings this would have been a different game and I reckon SA need to concentrate on playing spinners as opposed to trying to spin Pakistan out with two mediocre spinners. Tahir is never going to be a holding spinner and no leg spinner has ever been a holding spinner, so don't play Tahir if you want a holding role, leg spin is not that easy to master and Tahir doesn't have the control to hold. He can take wickets so his role has to be in that area. I reckon SA are underdone from months of no cricket and Pakistan were brilliant and the result showed that but if SA plan to spin out Pak and forget about getting runs against spinners, they will have a problem again.

  • POSTED BY Solid_Snake on | October 20, 2013, 13:53 GMT

    @vigneshmurali :You might wanna think again on 'sometimes'..lol.. This gives an impression of a fluke or Pak loses to low ranked teams all the time which is not the case.When all the teams were getting crushed by England in home & away..We simply outclassed them (3-0)..Same case with SA..World's best team outclassed in just 4 days.& it was no fluke..All credit goes to the bowlers who managed to get 20 wickets on a such track..

  • POSTED BY loki897 on | October 20, 2013, 12:09 GMT

    @Rooman Hamza, in football conditions don't really effect the proceedings unlike in cricket, so please don't compare the two.

  • POSTED BY AKS286 on | October 20, 2013, 7:40 GMT

    Don't create havoc or press panic button for spinners. Peterson is enough. don't forget that SA strength is African deadly Barrage (Steyn, Phil, Morkel, De Lange, Tsotsobe, Abott) which is capable to destroy any fortress anywhere. Spinner havoc sounds like retirement of Warne, Mcgill and Aus's prime moto is to search a spinner and they start dart process, import in meanwhile their batting, bowling, leadership, WK all lost because they concentrated totally on spinners. I'll prefer De Lange instead of tired Morkel. Morkel continuously busy on club & international cricket he needs rest to regain & refresh. De Lange is a power pack nature gifted Pace & bounce which will help in alien condition. With Steyn, De Lange SA will regroup and beat a minnow.

  • POSTED BY on | October 20, 2013, 5:14 GMT

    Pak have a superb edge, does not matter with or without Imran. Pak has an excellent bowling attack and oh my lord cant wait for the dubai track where Ajmal and Babar will throw some beauties. SA needs to restrict Pak under 250 in first innings, if they can do that, they have a better chance of winning because more or less likely Pak will suffer in 3rd or 4th innings which they will play.

  • POSTED BY vigneshmurali on | October 20, 2013, 2:56 GMT

    PAK loses to last rank test nation last month and this month beat the best test playing nation..don take it too hard on yourselves SA these pakis they can outplay the best sometimes,however lookin by past records they gonna get crushed n the next match

  • POSTED BY vatsap on | October 20, 2013, 1:44 GMT

    Don't think Tahir will make a difference to South African prospects. It has to come from their strength which is pace. Pakistan will comfortably tackle Tahir, just the way he was handled by Aussies and other teams earlier. He seems to be a good bowler, but something is amiss and batsmen read him well.

  • POSTED BY on | October 20, 2013, 0:56 GMT

    I agree that Tahir needs regular bowling. I saw him a lot in 2010 when he played for Warwickshire, did not miss either a county championship or a one day match, took I think 98 wicvkets all told! including a five wicket haul in the one day final at Lords and also hit his way to over 400 runs and was as keen as mustard in every match. Glyn Powell

  • POSTED BY android_user on | October 19, 2013, 20:53 GMT

    stupid indians don't think this is pakistan team who can win any #1 team in cricket. Every time pakistan win against #1 team like Eng Aus always

  • POSTED BY duncanmoo on | October 19, 2013, 19:29 GMT

    @Gavin Bruhn decent captain? Smith is only the captain of the no1 test team, I think it would be fair to say that he is a decent captain, he may not be that good at managing spin, but in all fairness he has not had much to work with over the years.

  • POSTED BY on | October 19, 2013, 19:25 GMT

    SA the no 1 team need to win the 2nd test , they cant say tht pitch was a spin track this and that , whether they playing home , india , pak , aus the best needs to show they are best , like the great australian team from 1998-2009 , any team any place they beat u to death . now see Messi he performs home and away against weak , great , best opposition that why he is da best , he steps up his game when Barca needs him , Steyn and AB Devillers needs to show they are best for tht conditions does not matter , play your way and performed like champions , as forPAKconcern why in the hell they dont play the 20 year old RAZA HASSAN the future of their spin attack instead they playing 40 year old Babar . like to see Umer Amin , Umer Akmal to play test cricket they will get more mature , i have to say learn from Kohli how to become a great player and a leader

  • POSTED BY wrenx on | October 19, 2013, 18:45 GMT

    They should have learned from England's mistakes. England failed to pick 2 spinners in their first test, rectified his mistake, and Monty was the standout bowler for the next 2 tests. Pietersen admitted that he was out of shape and the team hadn't prepared properly for the series - they took it easy and were duly bashed for their complacency. South Africa need to pick a proper specialist spinner, not a bits and pieces player like Pietersen who has an inflated reputation because Pakistan have made him look good in the past.

  • POSTED BY Wajahatt on | October 19, 2013, 18:27 GMT

    There is no need to bring in Tahir. He did not perform well in the warm-up and MIGHT not perform well in the test match as well. All that is needed from South Africa is to focus on their lengths and their success hopes would ignite from there on-wards.

    @Cricinfo, for the sake of Pakistan readers, can you please ask Osman to write an article or two on Cricinfo for each Pakistan series? Thanks.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | October 19, 2013, 17:44 GMT

    Well i think the world has to admit now that pakistan has the best nowling attack.after restricting the best batting side twice under 250 in 1 test match on batting paradise And on the other hand dale steyn philander and morkel couldnt coz any problems for pakistan

  • POSTED BY on | October 19, 2013, 17:17 GMT

    south africa should drop robin peterson and bring in deal elgar..he and faf can cover for teh spin bowling as teh fast men get teh pakistanis with their away swingers...keep a tight length and use duminy as a spinner...kallis should also be able to bowl

  • POSTED BY on | October 19, 2013, 16:50 GMT

    You need a decent Captain to know how to handle a leggy...sadly Sth Africa don't have one.

  • POSTED BY on | October 19, 2013, 16:22 GMT

    @9-0worldcup. I feel sorry for you. what do u mean by "doctored pitches". Its quite usual that hosting team always make those pitches which support their strengths. If South Africa claims to be the number 1 test side then they need to perform in every condition. There are no excuses in cricket. As a matter of fact, South African bowlers can only bowl on bouncy tracks which assist them but when it comes to real testing conditions, they are nothing more than ordinary bowlers. Thats the point. Greats of the game perform at every level, they dont make such lame excuses. And point to be noted, Pakistan pacers bowled quite well in these so called flat tracks through their swinging abilities.

  • POSTED BY gibbs.175 on | October 19, 2013, 16:22 GMT

    Southafrica can not do any more than what ever they did in last 10 years.....they are not coming through the way. Smith ,Morkel, Robin are making inbalance the side and (Alviro) can not improve him only in test cricket..and Kallis is near the finishing line of his carear........DOMINGO what are you doing there ? Do you have some plans or you following something.....?

  • POSTED BY Smahuta on | October 19, 2013, 16:22 GMT

    Why is everyone talking about the bowling when it was in fact the batsmen who did not perform in the 1st test match? playing tahir is not going to get them 500 runs, is it?

  • POSTED BY Alexk400 on | October 19, 2013, 16:15 GMT

    For me Tahir should play because he need to be given chance then and there to see he is ready. So far he had no control or just plain unlucky. I think people are reading him well. That is the issue. One day he will get 10 wickets but other day he won't and expensive. I am not sure tahir is best bet but SA has no one else to take wickets. Other spinners in the team are more control spinners. Tahir supposed to take bunch of wickets , if he did not bowl well this time , he should be never given another chance. I think this should be tahir last chance.

  • POSTED BY Ganan18 on | October 19, 2013, 15:53 GMT

    simon harmer is the long-term answer

  • POSTED BY android_user on | October 19, 2013, 13:59 GMT

    Changing the lineup will not be a wise decision to make, its not justified to drop someone who performed well in 16 matches but failed to do so in one. All this noise about spin department is just not needed. it wasnt that Robbie didnt bowl well, its just that batmen were too comfortable with spin. What we saw in 4th innings was that Pak batsmen struggle against pace and their openers are not the most consistent and reliable. So plan should be simple for SA, get their openers quick and dont let Mister and Younis settle, rest of them wont take the score past 250 and we might a fight from SA if not an easy win depending on how batsmen perform

  • POSTED BY android_user on | October 19, 2013, 13:25 GMT

    its surely a gamble to get Tahir in but it is also the best bet for SA at the moment ...he has got the experience and he is an attacking spinner ; not to forget he had some exciting spells to show in WC 2011 so he can be a handful on subcontinent pitches and surely more attacking than Robbie ...so tahir should be in the XI

  • POSTED BY GeoffreysMother on | October 19, 2013, 12:43 GMT

    'This was simply a case of being outplayed, perhaps through some under-preparation and even under-estimation of the opposition' - pretty comprehensive then, Firdose! How, other than Amla's performance was this any different from England's? Seems pretty similar to me (in performance and attitude) except that England had a spinner or two!

  • POSTED BY on | October 19, 2013, 12:25 GMT

    JP Duminy conceded at 3.89 runs to the over, more than any of their seamers and more than the overall Pakistan run-rate, and only took two wickets, both of them belonging to Duminy.

  • POSTED BY hhillbumper on | October 19, 2013, 11:45 GMT

    it is baffling why south Africa can't get any good spinners. I struggle to think of the last world class spinner they had and it is a proven weakness at times like this.mind you though Pakistan have adapted well to these foreign conditions.It must be maddening being a fan of theirs because you never are quite sure which team will turn up.The good one or the one we saw in Zimbabwe

  • POSTED BY on | October 19, 2013, 11:19 GMT

    2nd Test will be a challenge for SA as their key guy Amla won't be playing in it because of his wife's pregnancy. As far as Imran Tahir is concerned, I don't think he could make an impact as he's not a regular one. I can clearly see a whitewash here!

  • POSTED BY Nuxxy on | October 19, 2013, 10:38 GMT

    Why is no one mentioning Simon Harmer. He is the best, most reliable spinner in SA at the moment. Tahir hasn't moved forward at all - still all potential - though I will admit that Smith has no idea how to captain a legspinner. But Peterson - if there are any questions about SA cricket, the answer is NOT Robin Peterson. I don't know why SA is like this. Any pacer and it doesn't matter if he can bat. But a spinner? No he must be able to bat. A strike bowler is a strike bowler, no mater the pace.

  • POSTED BY on | October 19, 2013, 9:18 GMT

    It's a shame if someone calls doctored pitches, flat bed, blah, blah......

    It is a desert & you can't expect fodder in UAE where your express bowlers used to bowl only on such pitches with throwing & horrifying on bodies rather than bowling arts such as swing, reverse swing, yorkers, Zippers. The most utter shame is not able to post a decent 40-50 at least on such pitches by so called greats/no.1 batsmen of the world. Stop singing songs of "bowl out Pakistan for below 40 runs". It doesn't make any sense here.

  • POSTED BY Fijicricket on | October 19, 2013, 8:51 GMT

    South Africa will need solutions to doctored piches- then only they stan a chance! Outside UAE, SArica can bowl out Pakistan for below 40 runs

  • POSTED BY yasiranwar on | October 19, 2013, 8:22 GMT

    if pakistan will bat well they will have a big chance to whitewash

  • POSTED BY Cricket_Man on | October 19, 2013, 8:20 GMT

    How about South Africa drop Smith as his practical contribution to the team is NIL and his form for some time has been pathetic, plus he has not been leading the team by example. Amla and Alviro can open and then Tahir can be accommodated too. The Proteas look very mediocre at the moment. They need to take drastic actions and shake things up really quickly if they are to even give Pakistan some competition. SA needs some serious work if the want to extend their streak of not losing an away series.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | October 19, 2013, 8:16 GMT

    SA can play anyone but how will they come out of the fact that they lost in 4 days despite having the best batting lineup. If they manage a draw I think it will be enough to prove they can compete in any condition. and they don't wana listen to that fact that their batting couldn't click on a flat pitch. it was not their bowling. I see 2-0 or 1-0. no chance of 1-1.

  • POSTED BY on | October 19, 2013, 7:24 GMT

    South Africa, Australia, New Zealand should give immigration to spinners from Sub-Continent and create a competitive environment. CSA should recruit Hassan Raza and /Or Yasir Shah from Pakistan.

  • POSTED BY on | October 19, 2013, 7:06 GMT

    I think its a straight forward swop. Tahir in for Peterson. Peterson is low on confidence and although Tahir can be erratic, he is also a wicket-taker and SA will need to gamble on him coming good. Dean Elgar may take Amlas spot so there is another spin option. I do think wel see a much better performance from the Proteas in the 2nd test. Let us remember that they havent played test cricket in 6 months before the 1st test. Also Pak are a very dangerous team in these conditions as they outplayed Eng also here. Another question could be raised regarding SA's spin department: Was it justified to allow Johan Botha to go captain an Aussie domestic team?

  • POSTED BY on | October 19, 2013, 6:59 GMT

    SA should go with allout pace attack. No point looking over the fence and trying to compete with Pakistan. Duminy should be the sole spinner to make up the overs. Kleinveldt,Steyn,Morkel and Philander should be threatening in Dubai where the wicket has more bounce.

  • POSTED BY electric_loco_WAP4 on | October 19, 2013, 6:51 GMT

    SA has no other option ,as spinners go . Tahir is an opt. but I don't think he is much better than Rob P'son any way . He may bowl the odd surprise wrong un and bag a couple wkts with good deliveries. But he could present a lot of dross which will easy for Pak bats to put away. SA won't want that with 2 w/c bowlers in Steyn and Mork. The rest are pretty ordinary . But even these 2 look unthreatening on UAE strips . I guess Tahir will play . But it would be better to discount his last test v Aus . Though he was loose ,here's not much any bowler can do when likes of Warner and the best bat in world/player of spin Clarke are on song. Even the best spinner like Ajmal will find it tough ,what chance do avg. spinners like Tahir or Swann have?

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | October 19, 2013, 6:12 GMT

    It's the batting that was the problem in the first test. To be bowled out twice for under 250 on a good wicket showed how undercooked the South Africans were- and contrary to what the author says, is an exact parallel to the England defeats of early 2012.

    Tahir's not going to keep an end tight, is not a lethal wicket-taker on good pitches, is a poor fielder and doesn't know which end of the bat to hold. With Amla likely missing, SA can't afford to lose another batsman- even a useful lower order player like Peterson. Keep the side the same, apart from replacing Amla with another batsman if he's not back in time, and hope the batsmen play better. The bowling will be fine as it is.

  • POSTED BY jimbond on | October 19, 2013, 4:46 GMT

    Need not take too many conclusions from the first test. Things may be different in the second. Someone like Amla does not fail too often. But yes, Tahir needs to go. I mean there is no use having him in the team when you know that even if you take him, he is not going to have any impact, at least against this Pakistan team. Actually they can drop Robin peterson also because he is not much better than Duminy.

  • POSTED BY on | October 19, 2013, 4:43 GMT

    I dont think that Tahir will be able to make any impact playing against India,Pakistan or Srilanka with this kind of skills.Better to play him against other test teams.

  • POSTED BY on | October 19, 2013, 4:35 GMT

    SA was at sea..Pak must continue with spin Imran Tahir is no good...in front of AJMAL & ZULFI,,,

  • POSTED BY Sir_Ivor on | October 19, 2013, 4:24 GMT

    After the low of losing to Zimbabwe,the win against South Africa must be truly heartening for Pakistan. No one can grudge them the feel good once again. I wish they all collectively understand that it was Misbah who ensured that they won. The man who is pilloried by everyone in Pakistan it seems. In my opinion, Misbah must rank as an all time great from Pakistan. He is good in 20/20,ODIs and in Tests. He is a good captain as well. He is calm and the very anti-thesis of the Australian kind of aggression. My hats off to Misbah ! I agree with Firdoze that Imran Tahir could make a difference in terms of spin for South Africa but I wonder if they will drop Peterson. Robin was in my opinion the best against Ajmal.Maybe they need to drop Du Plessis which is sad really. I hope that the Saffas have worked out the length they need to bowl in the desert.That is crucial to win in these parts.

  • POSTED BY hamza893 on | October 19, 2013, 4:05 GMT

    It is ridiculous that people are talking about the inclusion of Imran Tahir in the next test despite of his 50.09 average with the bowl. His inclusion will be a plus for Pakistan ,he can't bat well like Pet and he bowls to much full ,Pakistanis play leggies very well ,so,I'm eyeing for a 2-0 whitewash. Please don't call it a upset again.

  • POSTED BY abdulghaffar08 on | October 19, 2013, 3:55 GMT

    SA underestimated Pakistan team (its sub-contenant not SA). Pakistani players love spinners. They were still afraid of SA pace attack but once they survived first 15 overs it was too easy for them. SA need a good spinner to challange Pakistan or take wickets with new ball otherwise a repeat of Abu Dehbi episode. I donot think they will be afraid of Imran Tahir. To me SA will go with only one change in Dubai (Imran ahir in Petrson out).

  • POSTED BY android_user on | October 19, 2013, 3:53 GMT

    one match doesnt matter guys.. get imran thahir instead of robbie.. rest looks gud.. look at d out of form players kallis smith faf they wil cum into party soon.. my team would be smith , alviro , amla , kallis , de villiers , duminy , faf , steyn, philander , morkel , thahir. ask faf bowl in nets .. make him like duminy..

  • POSTED BY Ragav999 on | October 19, 2013, 3:22 GMT

    Imran Tahir may not have as much an impact as the author describes in this article and it is not an easy decision to pick him. His record in Tests is very poor and there is not much improvement left in him considering his age. SA would be better off picking 4 quicks with objective of containment. Every team can have a poor match and that is exactly what happened to SA here. It just happened to be against Pak in UAE. It could have happened against any team anywhere. There is no need to panic for SA. They just need to relax and play their best which should be enough against any team in world cricket right now.

  • POSTED BY KiwiRocker- on | October 19, 2013, 2:57 GMT

    In theory, I agree with the argument to include Tahir. However, Tahir's case is unique in a sense that he himself is a Pakistani. Tahir had a long and unsuccessful domestic career in Pakistan. He obviously was not good enough to play for Pakistan. Most if not all Pakistani batsmen are familair with Tahir's bowling. Players like Younis Khan and Misbaq ul Haq will take Tahir to cleaners. Younis Khan in particular is a very fine player of spin bowling and has dominated likes of Shane Warne ( memorable innings in Melbourne), Kumble( 267 in Kalkota) and Murali. I simply do not see how can Tahir solve South Africa's problems. The problem with SA is that they underestimated Pakistan. Pakistani selectors for once have started to select players on merit. I have long advocated inclusion of Khurram Manzoor. I still believe Taufeeq Umer should be in team. SA team is has 9 players who are 30+, while Pakistan has six. Pakistanis will really like Tahir in SA team as he will be an epic failure!

  • POSTED BY kasifdotinfo on | October 19, 2013, 2:39 GMT

    Perhaps it's worth looking back on the 2010 UAE Pak-SA series. Interestingly, "holding" Paul Harris was the pick of South Africa's bowlers then with 7 wickets at 32.85. Steyn averaged 46.33; Morkel 37.16. That would seem to indicate that South Africa can't rely entirely on pace in their effort to take wickets.

    Peterson has a better Test bowling record than Tahir and his best batting performances - including his most recent one - have come against Pakistan. Given his rare success in a poor team batting effort and Tahir's failure in the warm-up match, Peterson would have reason to feel hard done by should he be dropped. However, Tahir managed to get the likes of Sangakkara and Dilshan out twice each in South Africa, and he has yet to play a Test in Asian conditions, so it isn't difficult to see how he might come good here should he play.

    Of course, the real issue for South Africa is simply that Pakistan know how to bat on these pitches!

  • POSTED BY aks1987 on | October 19, 2013, 1:33 GMT

    Nobody is asking questions from Smith's own batting performance. Dismal to say the least.

  • POSTED BY on | October 18, 2013, 23:47 GMT

    wow the first test match SA has lost in 15 and already the doom sayers are out! really? have a little perspective people sometimes teams have a bad match! the true hallmark of a great team is consistency and only one test series loss (maybe this will be a 2nd) since 2006 certainly points to SA having a very good team so why change after one performance?

  • POSTED BY on | October 18, 2013, 22:06 GMT

    Author's theory: play Tahir because Petersen was poor. How many times have we seen Tahir? Each time he's terrible. The 2011 WC was the only time he's done anything noteworthy (in a positive sense).

  • POSTED BY Optic on | October 18, 2013, 22:04 GMT

    @Asad Meer I beg to differ, the SA bowlers dd not do a good job at all imo. Steyn in particular was very poor in the 1st inning even though he picked up 3 wickets and again although Philander got a couple of wickets for large parts of the game they both lacked penetration. They all bowled far too short, no where near full enough for the pitch. The spin bowling department to be blunt is a joke. How can you go in to a game in the UAE without a proper spin bowler. You are correct though their batting was very poor and was generally the cause of the defeat, though not totally.

  • POSTED BY TeamSelector on | October 18, 2013, 22:03 GMT

    I still don't understand why South Africa went in with three fast bowlers & two all rounders (Kallis & Duminy) in the first Test. Four seamers & only the one spinner in Duminy seems a bit much on JP's shoulders on such a flat track ...

  • POSTED BY on | October 18, 2013, 21:58 GMT

    What South Africa *need* is a holding spinner. Someone like Paul Harris who can bowl from one end and keep the runs down while seamers rotate and attack from the other end. SA have had problems from the moment they decided to go for an attacking spinner. If the spinner cannot keep the runs down, SA end up not being able to build pressure. Forget about attacking spinners unless you find a really good one and just play to your strengths. SA have been unbeaten away for many years without an attacking spinner. They don't suddenly need one now.

    For the upcoming match, I'd pick Tahir and drop Peterson. If Amla doesn't return, SA will already be batsman light. Dropping Faf will only make it worse even though he hasn't been in great form recently. Duminy can take Peterson's place.

    On a related note, test series' should include a minimum of three tests. I fail to see the point of having a two match series.

  • POSTED BY 2nd_Slip on | October 18, 2013, 21:27 GMT

    Both Robby P and Faf Du Plessis should be dropped from the team,making way for Dean Elgar and Imran Tahir, who I am sure will bowl out of his skin to prove a point against his once countrymen.

  • POSTED BY on | October 18, 2013, 20:45 GMT

    SA lost the match because of batting not bowling. Their bowlers did a good job. Faf was batting under lot of pressure. no. 7 is a very difficult position to bat in test cricket knowing that this is the last recognized batting pair. Looking at Dubai history it will be slow and just like England SA are hesitant and maybe they don't like to play 2 spinners. If Amla is not playing the 2nd test it will be too much burdan on AB, Smith and Kallis. I don't see anyone else making a big score. Dubai is totally different from Abudahbi. It will be slower and SA pace bowlers will help Pakistani batsmen and the ball will come nicely onto their bats. And it will definitely turn a lot more than what they have seen so far. And its gonna be hotter than Abudahbi which SA players are not used to alot.

  • POSTED BY on | October 18, 2013, 20:30 GMT

    Some teams like SA/ENG/AUS are banking on pre-match verbal amusement for a mind game tactics. SA, in particular, is still not ready to accept the challenge to play on spin tracks. The talks like flat bed, dust bowls become maneuvers for them to hide their inability to face the real challenges and that probably backfired in UAE here. Every sportsman is focusing on his personal strength and team SA is not far behind. But SA is down with feared mind set and it is difficult to raise here for them. There is a gulf between SA & PAK spinners. Eng has quality spinners in their camp like Monty/Swann whereas SA is much depend on PAK origin Imran tahir. He is just raw as against Ajmal/Rehman/Babber. The Dubai Track has added too much concern for them. Every team has to go through bad phases and its SA's turn now. With 1-0 behind & seeing Smith/Alviro/kallis/Faf struggling to post decent, SA is heading for another blow.

  • POSTED BY Mohsinnn on | October 18, 2013, 20:30 GMT

    With Pakistanis there is a problem of patience at the test level. You make them self-destruct by not letting them score runs.No use trying to get them out by extra-ordinary deliveries on these pitches.Pakistani tail is quite long and if you get a few early wickets there is every possibility of Pakistani batting folding under 100 even in UAE. It has happened against England and there is no reason it cannot happen again.South Africans can play Ajmal quite well so there is no possibility of Ajmal running through the South African batting line-up like he did against England.So get Pakistan out for a cheap score in the first innings and you cannot lose no matter what you do.Early wickets and then drying up the scoring options is the way to go.

  • POSTED BY Mohsinnn on | October 18, 2013, 20:25 GMT

    It is simply a myth that Pakistanis are good players of spin.Among the lot Younis and Misbah play spin comparatively better but I have seen them get out to spin a number of times.Young Pakistani players are no good against spin.In UAE,once the ball is old it is easier to score against fast bowlers.South African strategy should be to dry up scoring.If they are not scoring tendency of Pakistani batsman is to get pressurized and give away wickets. Two spinners and three seamers would do.Morkel can be dropped in favor of a spinner.With a softer ball cutting scoring options of Pakistani batsman will be important.Against Pakistan strategy should not be about getting wickets but simply containment will automatically generate wickets.Line & length and field setting is of utmost importance.

  • POSTED BY on | October 18, 2013, 20:22 GMT

    as far as under-preparation or under-estimation of the opposition is concerned then SA is a much better number 1 ranked team than England. They would have expected this happening in the UAE and I was surprised not seeing Imran Tahir in the first test. No matter how good faster bowlers u got but on sub-continent wickets spinners mostly win the match for u. If in the second test SA comes out with Tahir they have a better chance of avoiding a series defeat.

  • POSTED BY on | October 18, 2013, 20:20 GMT

    Smith needs to add more runs. His show was pathetic....

  • POSTED BY on | October 18, 2013, 20:06 GMT

    Both Peterson and du Plessis should be dropped. Throw dice and put anybody else in. Please. Even the guy who arranges the luggage would be an improvement. It is difficult to understand why the selectors persevere with such continuous failure from both these players. There is some crazy notion that both can bat and bowl but international all rounders or even competent single discipline players at that level they are not!

  • POSTED BY Mr.PotatoesTomatoes on | October 18, 2013, 20:04 GMT

    Pakistan would love to see Tahir play.Their batsmen play spinners virtually everyday.As I see it there's only one way South Africa can stage a comeback in the two-match series-by burying Pakistani batting under a mountain of runs.So instead of watching Tahir bowl in the nets,the batters can get some much needed batting practice against spin which I have no doubt will have a bigger role to play in Dubai.

  • POSTED BY on | October 18, 2013, 19:48 GMT

    What happend to the best bowling attack in the world against the weakest batting side, Saffers are worried now.

  • POSTED BY angel19 on | October 18, 2013, 18:56 GMT

    well i Guarantee that tahir will not be a major threat and many will agree with that because he bowls 3 ful tosses (at best 1 full toss) in every over if you think he has improved then watch T20 series with srilanka in srilanka he getaway with that in those matches his figures dont show that but still he bowls so many full tosses in search of variation(like Ashwin)

  • POSTED BY wrenx on | October 18, 2013, 18:48 GMT

    @Jda123 a better line would be that Misbah and Younis are great players of spin, the others struggle

  • POSTED BY Rizi_degr8 on | October 18, 2013, 18:47 GMT

    The ESPN-cricinfo ranking system is quite controversial as was published in cricinfo article couple of months ago. Rankings are totally based on win-lose ratio. Up till now, no method has been devised to induce home/away conditions in the ranking system. Pak have quite better ranking if you consider win-lose ratio in UAE. Despite losing to Pak by 3-0, England is still at #2. If Eng play against pak in UAE again, Pak is still favorite despite at #6. Same applies to SA. I am not surprised if Pak have beaten SA in UAE. For me it is not HUGE UPSET, as I was expecting pak to play competitive cricket in UAE.

  • POSTED BY on | October 18, 2013, 18:37 GMT

    South Africa Should go with extra pace bowler rather then thinking to Attack with Spinner. Here everybody is forgetting that Pakistani player is very good against Spin bowlers , Only thing is to attack with Fast bowlers Mokel, Styen & add 1 or 2 Top bowlers in Final 11 & I bet you,ll see results.

  • POSTED BY RodStark on | October 18, 2013, 18:18 GMT

    "Neither should be seen as a parallel to England's fortunes here in early 2012. This was simply a case of being outplayed, perhaps through some under-preparation and even under-estimation of the opposition."

    Sounds like exactly what England did.

  • POSTED BY on | October 18, 2013, 18:17 GMT

    Faf must make way for Tahir, Peterson & Tahir bowling in tandem is the way to go. Faf is struggling against spin & is more suited for the shorter format.

  • POSTED BY on | October 18, 2013, 18:16 GMT

    Kallis must be part of this somehow - I know he earns his place as a top-order bat and may never run through a side with his bowling, but it'd surprise me if he can't bowl enough decent overs to let SA pick 2 specialist quicks and 2 specialist spinners.

  • POSTED BY on | October 18, 2013, 18:12 GMT

    well i don't see imran tahir doing any damage in second test as he lacks control and biting spinn like shane warne used to do, south africa should persiist with rob peterson , telling him to bowl in middle and offstump consistantly with variation in speed and flight.pakistani baters always struggle against good left arm spinners, the wicket in second test will have more for the spinners. as for pakistan batsmens, the first ten overs are very crucial against styn and phelender.

  • POSTED BY warneneverchuck on | October 18, 2013, 18:08 GMT

    This SA attack can not win on lively subcontinent wickets wher ball turns sharply and their batsmen are not as good against better spin attack like pakistan

  • POSTED BY on | October 18, 2013, 18:04 GMT

    South Africa definitely should go with Imran Tahir as he is an attacking spinner and also has variations compared to robin peterson. Either they need to drop Peterson or duplessis to make way for Tahir which might trouble pakistani batsman. 7 Batsman can well be kept intact n dropping peterson in this track may serve the purpose

  • POSTED BY Jda123 on | October 18, 2013, 17:55 GMT

    "Pakistan are great at playing spin"

    A quote that is used a lot but not true.

    Tahir would be a good choice but who would they drop - Morkel which is bad I think or Philander.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | October 18, 2013, 17:53 GMT

    imran taher as best vs pakistan

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | October 18, 2013, 17:53 GMT

    imran taher as best vs pakistan

  • POSTED BY Jda123 on | October 18, 2013, 17:55 GMT

    "Pakistan are great at playing spin"

    A quote that is used a lot but not true.

    Tahir would be a good choice but who would they drop - Morkel which is bad I think or Philander.

  • POSTED BY on | October 18, 2013, 18:04 GMT

    South Africa definitely should go with Imran Tahir as he is an attacking spinner and also has variations compared to robin peterson. Either they need to drop Peterson or duplessis to make way for Tahir which might trouble pakistani batsman. 7 Batsman can well be kept intact n dropping peterson in this track may serve the purpose

  • POSTED BY warneneverchuck on | October 18, 2013, 18:08 GMT

    This SA attack can not win on lively subcontinent wickets wher ball turns sharply and their batsmen are not as good against better spin attack like pakistan

  • POSTED BY on | October 18, 2013, 18:12 GMT

    well i don't see imran tahir doing any damage in second test as he lacks control and biting spinn like shane warne used to do, south africa should persiist with rob peterson , telling him to bowl in middle and offstump consistantly with variation in speed and flight.pakistani baters always struggle against good left arm spinners, the wicket in second test will have more for the spinners. as for pakistan batsmens, the first ten overs are very crucial against styn and phelender.

  • POSTED BY on | October 18, 2013, 18:16 GMT

    Kallis must be part of this somehow - I know he earns his place as a top-order bat and may never run through a side with his bowling, but it'd surprise me if he can't bowl enough decent overs to let SA pick 2 specialist quicks and 2 specialist spinners.

  • POSTED BY on | October 18, 2013, 18:17 GMT

    Faf must make way for Tahir, Peterson & Tahir bowling in tandem is the way to go. Faf is struggling against spin & is more suited for the shorter format.

  • POSTED BY RodStark on | October 18, 2013, 18:18 GMT

    "Neither should be seen as a parallel to England's fortunes here in early 2012. This was simply a case of being outplayed, perhaps through some under-preparation and even under-estimation of the opposition."

    Sounds like exactly what England did.

  • POSTED BY on | October 18, 2013, 18:37 GMT

    South Africa Should go with extra pace bowler rather then thinking to Attack with Spinner. Here everybody is forgetting that Pakistani player is very good against Spin bowlers , Only thing is to attack with Fast bowlers Mokel, Styen & add 1 or 2 Top bowlers in Final 11 & I bet you,ll see results.

  • POSTED BY Rizi_degr8 on | October 18, 2013, 18:47 GMT

    The ESPN-cricinfo ranking system is quite controversial as was published in cricinfo article couple of months ago. Rankings are totally based on win-lose ratio. Up till now, no method has been devised to induce home/away conditions in the ranking system. Pak have quite better ranking if you consider win-lose ratio in UAE. Despite losing to Pak by 3-0, England is still at #2. If Eng play against pak in UAE again, Pak is still favorite despite at #6. Same applies to SA. I am not surprised if Pak have beaten SA in UAE. For me it is not HUGE UPSET, as I was expecting pak to play competitive cricket in UAE.