With just over two weeks remaining for the India tour of South Africa to kick off, the latter side's selectors are faced with some glaring dilemmas. The indecision has sprung in their minds from the outcome series in UAE where there were several stand-out performances from the Proteas. But now, they are saddled with questions as to who will fill these crucial three roles - additional seamer, spinner and No. 6 batsman.
Wayne Parnell an Lonwabo Tsotsobe were both chosen in South Africa's Test squad against Pakistan, but were left on the sidelines throughout the two matches. With the new-ball pair of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel cementing their places in the side for the upcoming series and allrounder Jacques Kallis a certain for the third paceman's position, it looks like Parnell and Tsotsob will have to duel it out for the fourth seamer's spot.
Tsotsobe is riding on the back of a fair amount of experience and success, having played both the Twenty20s and four out of five one-dayers against Pakistan. He was the top wicket-taker in the ODI, ensnaring 7 scalps in all. However, Parnell only got to play one match and that too went wicketless in it. It was an inauspicious comeback for him after being laid-off for six months due to a groin injury. It is for those reasons, that Tsotsobe holds the edge over his contemporary.
There has also been talk that Parnell suffers some glitches to his bowling action, which he has worked on in recent weeks. He is supposedly more upright now, has changed the angle of his run-up and his delivery stride, and even manages to get late swing. But on all accounts, Tsotsobe seems to be the readier of the two.
Among the other names that come up for consideration as back-up seamers are Vernon Philander, Ryan McLaren and Quinton Friend who have all had successful first-class seasons. The Titan's Ethy Mbhalati is another stand-out for garnering the most number of domestic wickets with 25.
For the role of premier spinner, three names enter the fray - Paul Harris, Johan Botha and the Pakistan-born Imran Tahir. The former two both played in the two recent Tests against Pakistan but came away with limited success. They just might be under pressure to retain their places in the side because of the calibre of the spinner they are up against - Tahir. Tahir has been the leading wicket-taker in this domestic season, claiming as many as 30 scalps. But his eligibility to play for South Africa owing to some ongoing issue regarding his citizenship mar his likelihood of being played.
Finally, there is gaping hole in the middle-order with Ashwell Prince and J P Duminy finding themselves in contention for the No. 6 spot. Prince reclaimed the role against England earlier this year, after Duminy accounted for it on the Australia tour in 2008-09. Since then, Duminy has struggled for form, while Prince has restored his position in the line-up. However, Prince managed just 80 runs from the two Tests in the UAE. Former South African batting consultant Kepler Wessels observed, "Duminy did not play in the Tests but performed well in the ODI series. He scored 185 runs in the five match-series at an average of 61.66."