If Ottis Gibson gets his way and as coach and a selector he has a big say South Africa will continue to challenge India with a four-pronged fast bowling attack in the two remaining Test matches. Reflecting on South Africa’s 72-run win in the first Test at Newlands, Gibson said: “When you are playing at home you play to your strengths and at the moment we have some high-quality fast bowlers.”
“I’m a very fast bowling-minded kind of coach,” said former West Indies player Gibson, explaining why two fast bowlers, Duanne Olivier and Lungi Ngidi, had been added to an already big squad following a series-ending heel injury to Dale Steyn. Even without Steyn, a pace attack of Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada sent India crashing to 135 all out in the second innings after they had been set a victory target of 208 at Newlands.
Gibson said the balance of the team depended on conditions but added that Centurion, where the second Test starts on Saturday, usually had pace and bounce, which would incline him towards four fast bowlers. “If you want to beat the best team in the world, which India are, then maybe we have to do something slightly different to what we’ve done in the past,” said Gibson. “We have to get stuck in and be tough with the bat and the ball. Get in their faces a bit, use our physicality in terms of our pace.”
Olivier and Ngidi are specialist fast bowlers, while Chris Morris and Andile Phehlukwayo are both all-rounders who can add to the batting depth of a team whose fragility was exposed when they were bowled out for 130 in the second innings. Morris is capable of bowling at more than 140kmh, while Phehlukwayo is a medium-pacer.
Phehlukwayo’s lack of raw pace could count against him. He will remain in Cape Town when the rest of the squad travel to Centurion on Wednesday in order to play in a domestic one-day match for the Dolphins franchise. Team spokesperson Lerato Malekutu said Phehlukwayo had not been released from the Test squad but had been given permission to play for his franchise because he had not played in the Test match.