Aaron Phangiso could carry heavy responsibility for South Africa © AFP
Given what happened to South Africa the last time they were in Nagpur, in November 2015, you would think it is the last place they would want to return to. Especially so soon. But you would be wrong.
“That was a Test match and this was T20 cricket. It’s a totally different format,” said Imran Tahir, who was not part of the South Africa squad that lost by 124 runs and in so doing lost the series and their No.1 ranking. “And if you look at our record in T20 cricket, we’ve been pretty solid and playing really good cricket for the last year and a half. That gives us a lot of confidence.”
Even those who were on the trip, like coach Russell Domingo, are not haunted by the ghosts of four months ago. “At least the Test match was only three days so the memories don’t last too long,” Domingo joked, preferring to remember a happier time in Nagpur in 2011. “South Africa played a World Cup game here and chased 300 against India. Some of the guys from then are in this squad so there are some good memories.”
South Africa’s attack have had their fill of the batsmen-friendly Wankhede and would prefer something that does not work against them as much. Nagpur’s deck does not immediately resemble their kind of surface and Domingo has even used the loaded word “interesting” to describe it. He hopes South Africa will have an advantage because of one man. “Imran Tahir on good wickets is a handful. Hopefully on a wicket that assists him, he will be a matchwinner,” Domingo said.
Tahir himself did well to brush off any added expectation, especially in the absence of South Africa’s part-time spin option JP Duminy, who has been ruled out through injury. “There is no pressure on me. We’ve got players in the squad who can cover him,” he said.
Aaron Phangiso seems certain to get a game, his first since he remodelled his action after it was declared illegal and he will be battling nerves of his own. Not only will Phangiso be playing international cricket for the first time in five months but he will have to do it against a line-up that will include Chris Gayle.
Domingo had some calming words for his left-arm spinner, based on the conditions. “West Indies are probably the most powerful batting unit in the world in terms of six hitting but this is a big field and this slow wicket might nullify that strength,” he said. “We’ve got no issues with the wicket. We’ve got two world-class spinners in Imran Tahir and Aaron Phangiso. And we would much rather play West Indies here than in Mumbai.”
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Source: ESPN Crickinfo