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Proteas will still shine the ball

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“There’s some fine lines, but we have sat down and it seems like both teams are healthy. We’ve been tested on our way in here, so I’ll think we’ll shine the ball.”

Proteas captains have been in trouble before for their methods used to shine the ball, but limited-over skipper Quinton de Kock says his team will continue to apply saliva on the ball on their tour of India.

De Kock was, of course, not referring to any artificial methods, but rather the potential threat of spreading the coronavirus which had initially placed South Africa’s three-match ODI against India in jeopardy.

Risk assessment

It was only after a risk assessment was done that Cricket SA agreed to continue with the tour. CSA’s chief medical officer Dr Shuaib Manjra has also accompanied the team to India as a precautionary measure.

“Obviously with the coronavirus, we understand what’s going on. Personal hygiene is a big thing. Wash your hands, (watch) where you cough and be aware of what you touch,” De Kock said.

“There’s some fine lines, but we have sat down and it seems like both teams are healthy. We’ve been tested on our way in here, so I’ll think we’ll shine the ball.”

SA welcome back their premier ball shiner and former captain Faf du Plessis, along with Rassie van der Dussen, for the series. After being relieved from his leadership duties after the England series, Du Plessis was rested for the ODI leg of the Australian tour to recharge the batteries for the year ahead.

The 35-year-old, though, remains one of SA’s premier limited-overs batsmen and his experience of touring India every year for the best part of the last decade will be invaluable to a relatively greenhorn Proteas ODI squad.

And just like Proteas coach Mark Boucher, who recently placed a premium on Du Plessis’ presence in the touring party, De Kock has come out in full support of his predecessor.

“Faf coming back plays a big role for us from a leadership point of view. He is here to help a lot of the younger guys in the team. He still adds a lot of value to us. It’s great to have him around. His experience will be a big help for this series,” De Kock said.

“We understand that we (are) coming here with a very inexperienced side in these conditions. That’s why it is very important that we have guys like myself, Faf and David Miller to guide these youngsters along.”

Today’s series opener in Dharamsala will certainly be an eye-opener for the likes of rookie batsmen Jon-Jon Smuts and Kyle Verreynne.

Although both have previously been to India on SA A tours and CSA spin camps, the sheer volume of people inside the picturesque venue located on the slopes of the Himalayas will create an electric atmosphere they have unlikely experienced before.

The bowling unit SA will rely on is equally raw, particularly with Kagiso Rabada being rested and Dale Steyn not available for ODIs any longer.

At least Lungi Ngidi and Beuran Hendricks have IPL- and Anrich Nortjé Test experience respectively, but for the likes of Lutho Sipamla it could be a rude awakening.

South Africa

Quinton de Kock (C), Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, Faf du Plessis, David Miller, Janneman Malan, JJ Smuts, George Linde, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kyle Verreynne, Heinrich Klaasen, Lungi Ngidi, Lutho Sipamla, Beuran Hendricks, Anrich Nortjé, Keshav Maharaj.

Start: 10am (SA time) TV: SS2