Shamsi emerges as potential day-night trump card

Tabraiz Shamsi was expensive in his 12 overs against the Victoria XI, but he also picked up four wickets © Getty Images

Just like Kyle Abbott is not exactly sure when he is going to be able to make the move ball move, Tabraiz Shamsi does not really know whether the Australian batsmen can pick him, but as long as the wickets come, he does not mind the uncertainty.

“That’s the theory going around and with theories, you can’t say it’s a given thing because it’s not a proven thing,” Shamsi said at the MCG where his 4 for 72 against a Victoria XI put him in line for a Test debut. “I am really happy with the way I have gone personally against them.”

Shamsi was picked for the Test squad on the back of a stellar 2015-16 first-class season – he was joint-second on the wicket-charts with 41 scalps at 19.97 – and performances in shorter formats which suggested he could be a handful. Shamsi took 3 for 36 in his third ODI against Australia in Port Elizabeth last month and was South Africa A’s third-highest wicket-taker in a 50-over quadrangular series in Australia this winter.

The talk in South Africa is that Shamsi’s variations render batsmen illiterate and that he was brought on this tour specifically to play in Adelaide. He was seen practising with the pink ball on his own during the Hobart Test and even though it may be harsh on Keshav Maharaj, who also debuted on this tour, South Africa may want to use Shamsi as a trump card in the day-night fixture.

Shamsi confirmed the pink ball wears “a lot more than the red ball”, and is therefore more likely to bring spinners into the game. Wristpin with a pink ball has emerged as particularly tricky for batsmen and even though Shamsi is not sure of exactly how difficult it is, he hopes he can prove a handful anyway.

“There’s a theory about legspinners and batsmen not picking it,” Shamsi said. “The guys say it’s harder to pick the seam off the legspinners so maybe there is a difference but at the end of the day you have to put the ball in the right areas.”

Conceding more than six an over, as Shamsi did in the warm-up match, may not speak much for his disciplines which may be why Shamsi continues to be coy about his chances of playing. It’s almost as if he knows that he travelled as a reserve, or a surprise package, and is focusing more on being part of the Test squad than the starting XI. “That’s not up to me [if I debut],” he said. “I’ve just got to go and do my bit. If it comes I’ll be happy. If it doesn’t, the team is doing well so either way it’s a win-win situation.”

Like his team-mates, Shamsi repeated the mantra that South Africa are not merely satisfied with a series win. They want a whitewash too. “We came here to win the series. We’ve done that. Our mission is not over yet. We are going to try and win the series 3-nil.”

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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