Jun 03, 2016 Sports
By Sean Devers
When number three ranked South Africa face off with West Indies from 13:30hrs
today at Providence in a day/night contest to start the Tri-Nation ODI series which also involves favorites Australia it will be the first time these two teams will meet on South American soil.
This will the 14th ODI at Providence since South Africa squeezed past Sri Lanka by one run despite four wickets in four balls from Lasith Malinga in the very first one and the first in Guyana since West Indies defeated Pakistan by 37 runs on July 16, 2003.
It will also be the first time that an International game is being played under lights here and the first time since 1977 when the very first ODI in the West Indies was played at Albion that an ODI match will not be broadcast live on local Radio.
Despite the presence of a tinge of grass, the track should be a typical slow and low Providence pitch. Providence is the fastest drying International cricket ground in the world and should be lush green from the recent rain.
Only heavy showers this afternoon could prevent cricket from being played today and the weather forecast for today predicts partly cloudy conditions. South Africa have lost once in their three ODIs at Providence while West Indies lost four of their eight games at this venue and will start as the underdogs in today’s contest.
With the games not starting until after Lunch, a large crowd is anticipated since Guyanese have been starved for cricket at this level and tickets can be bought at the venue and at the GCB office at Bourda today.
West Indies, without Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Lindl Simmons, Dwayne Smith and Darren Sammy will have a tough assignment. The hosts have only won once in their last six series against South Africa and have only 13 wins in 58 ODIs.
Even with the return of off-spinner Sunil Narine and powerhouse all-rounder Kieron Pollard, South Africa, led by inform Skipper AB deVilliers and the bearded Hashim Amla, will be favored to register their 44th win against the home side.
But cricket is not played on paper and West Indies could pull off of an upset win on a track which could assist the spinners. But Darren Bravo (2 ODI tons from 84 matches), Marlon Samuels (9 centuries from 177 ODIs), Pollard (3 centuries from 91 ODIs), and Denish Ramdin (2 hundreds from 129 ODIs), are all good players of spin and the four most experienced players in the team. They must step up to the plate today.
World Cup hero Carlos Braithwaite and Skipper Jason Holder need to also produce with the bat since Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher and Jonathan Carter are all short of experience and runs at this level. The Guyanese pair of Leon Johnson and Devendra Bishoo could have been better options at Providence.
West Indies will bank on Narine, left-arm spinner Suleiman Benn and Ashley Nurse since this track might make hard work for Jerome Taylor and Shannon Gabriel, the only two genuine pacers in the squad. However, Holder, Braithwaite and Pollard, if on song, could be the ideal bowlers for the slow track which should make ‘playing through the line’ difficult for the batsmen.
Although the pitches in South Africa have a lot more bounce that the ones in the West Indies, AB, Amla and Rilee Rossouw would have had recent experience of playing on ‘turning tracks’ in the IPL in India and if they get going today the fans could be in for a treat.
In addition to Amla, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy and Rossouw are all capable of big scores while Wayne Parnell and Chris Morris could all contribute in the lower order. Faf du Plessis could miss today’s match due to a finger injury.
Left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso and 37-year-old leg-spinner Imran Tahir should enjoy conditions here while 26-year-old left-arm back-of-the-hand spinner Tabraiz Shamsi stakes a claim for his ODI debut on the back of his excellent First-Class performance in South Africa and in the IPL.
Without Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander, the fast bowling will be led by Morne Morkel, Kyle Abbott, Parnell and Kagiso Rabada. Due to the adverse weather over the last few days only the West Indies had an opportunity to practice twice since the teams arrived on Monday while South Africa had a ‘net’ yesterday. But with many of the players just out of the IPL, that should not be a major concern.
Tickets for today’s game cost $2,000 (Party Stand), $3,000 (Orange), $4,000 (Green & Red) while Car passes are being sold for $1,000.
West Indies squad: Jason Holder (Captain), Sulieman Benn, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Jonathan Carter, Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher, Shannon Gabriel, Sunil Narine, Ashley Nurse, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor.
South Africa squad: AB de Villiers (Captain), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Tabraiz Shamsi.
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