Arthur searching for South Africa answers

Published: Thursday, June 28, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Belfast:Mickey Arthur believes the ongoing series against India here in Belfast will help South Africa find the answers to questions regarding their one-day bowling attack.

The Proteas have been criticised for being too dependent on right-arm fast-medium bowlers, although it was their batting that let them down in a seven-wicket World Cup semi-final defeat against eventual champions Australia in St Lucia in April.

But South Africa coach Arthur reckons fast bowler Dale Steyn and off-spinner Thandi Tshabalala could give the Proteas' attack increased variety.

The duo are struggling with flu but Arthur expects them to play in Friday's second game of a three-match series against India, which the Proteas lead 1-0 after Tuesday's four-wicket win.

However, the series opener featured a third-wicket stand of 158 between experienced India batsmen Sachin Tendulkar (99) and Rahul Dravid (74).

"I've done a lot of analysis on our last performance," said Arthur.

"And the only thing I can think of is I still think between overs 20-35 we are still a little bit predictable, if you look at the likes of Andrew Hall, Vernon Philander and Jacques Kallis bowling in that area, they are all pretty much the same.

"I really want to see Steyn and Tshabalala tomorrow (Friday). We need to go home with some answers," Arthur added.

"We need them bowling at the Tendulkars, the Dravids the Sourav Gangulys and Yuvraj Singhs."

Spin has been a problem area for South Africa for some time and whether Tshabalala, 22, known for firing the ball in at the stumps, is the answer against high-class batsmen, remains to be seen.

He took one for 22 on his one-day international debut in Sunday's 42-run win against Ireland at Stormont but didn't feature in the India opener.

Steyn is a more experienced cricketer, the 24-year-old having appeared in 11 Tests and five one-day internationals. This season he has also been playing for English county Warwickshire.

"I'm really hoping Dale comes through tomorrow (Friday) - and I'm pretty sure Thandi will play," Arthur added.

"Maybe that will give us the variation we are looking for. We were criticised a lot in terms of the variation of our attack - and I think that criticism was true.

"The guys we took to the World Cup were the best we could have, the team we had built for two years. But now is definitely the time to refresh it and take on board that variation.

"We need to find a spinner, and the other variation you can have is express pace - which Dale Steyn does bring to the party."

One young player who has made a mark already in this short series is all-rounder Vernon Philander. The Cape Cobras player marked his 22nd birthday and one-day international debut by taking four for 12 against Ireland.

He followed that up with a composed 17 not out, helping Kallis add an unbroken 55 for the seventh wicket on Tuesday where he confidently lofted spinner Yuvraj Singh for the winning boundary with three balls to spare.

Kallis, captain in the absence of Graeme Smith, recovering from knee surgery, has identified Philander as a potential heir to Shaun Pollock, rested from this series, and the new skipper's comments were endorsed by Arthur.

"If something happened to Shaun and we hadn't given a guy like Philander a go we wouldn't be any the wiser.

"I think he's come through really well, done everything asked of him so far - I just hope he can continue in that vein."


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