Why didn’t Phangiso play in Mumbai?

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Captain Faf du Plessis gave no further explanation at the toss other than to say it was a selection call. All-rounder David Wiese’s mixture of cutters and slower balls was being preferred to Steyn’s all-out pace and skills against Afghanistan.

At the post-match press conference Du Plessis went into a bit more detail, saying he did not think the wicket would suit Steyn.

It all sounds a bit bizarre, doesn’t it?

Admittedly Steyn delivered just two overs in Friday’s run-fest against England and conceded a whopping 35 runs after opener Jason Roy took a liking to him.

If any other bowler delivered figures like that, he would, of course, be in grave danger of losing his place for the next game. I therefore have no issue with Steyn being benched.

What perplexes me more is who replaced Steyn. Everyone in the South African camp has been preaching about how of all the Indian pitches, it is here in Mumbai that the Proteas pacemen will receive the most assistance due to the fact that the track is similar to the Wanderers back home.

So why then opt for Wiese? The Titans all-rounder doesn’t regularly deliver the ball quicker than 130km/h and relies largely on his variations to be successful. And I am not even taking into consideration that he conceded 47 runs from his four overs, as Du Plessis would probably not have utilised Wiese’s full allocation had JP Duminy not limped off with a hamstring strain.

Wiese adds greater value as a lower-order batsman who thumps the ball a long way.

However, SA scored 230 - their highest at the World T20 - against England, which surely does not suggest the batting unit required help.

Traditionally spin has been dominant here in India. Nothing has transpired at this World T20 to disprove this. In fact, the performance of the spinners thus far has only strengthened the view that it will be the slower bowlers who will be most successful in these conditions - including at the Wankhede Stadium. Imran Tahir has bowled eight overs in Mumbai and conceded just 53 runs. Considering that most of SA’s pacemen have regularly conceded more than 10 per over, his figures are phenomenal.

Aaron Phangiso is the second specialist spinner in the Proteas squad. He should have played yesterday against opposition who would not have seen much of him before. There is every likelihood that he will play in Nagpur - if he doesn’t the Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula has every right to question Phangiso’s non-selection purely on “cricket grounds” - against the powerful West Indies batting line-up.

He will now be firmly under pressure to perform at peak ability against batsmen like Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Bravo coming in from the cold.

Du Plessis admitted the SA brains trust were “thinking” about playing the 32-year-old left-arm spinner, but decided against it because “the wicket looked like it would not spin a lot”. The time for thinking is over. It is time for action, and quickly too.

The Star

Where is Dale Steyn? That was the hot topic in the Wankhede Stadium media centre on Sunday. Does he have an injury?

Original source: Why didn’t Phangiso play in Mumbai?

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