South Africa vs Bangladesh: All options open to Dean Elgar

Dean Elgar

South Africa captain Dean Elgar has played his cards close to his chest over his team’s bowling line-up in the first of two Tests against Bangladesh.

The first Test starts at Kingsmead in Durban on Thursday and the hosts will be without a host of their front-line bowlers for the matches, which forms part of the World Test Championship.

The squad which started training in Durban on Sunday was without regulars Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortjé, Lungi Ngidi and Marco Jansen, while Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen was absent from the batting group.

Whilst Nortjé is yet to regain full fitness, the others are already representing their various sides in the Indian Premier League, which started at the weekend.

With the entire regular seam bowling attack away, questions have been asked about who exactly will be in the side.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Elgar suggested that they might play two spinners although “all options” were still open to him regarding team selection.

The best team to take 20 wickets

Kingsmead’s wickets have slowed down over the years and with not a lot of bounce on offer either, South Africa’s first-choice spinner Keshav Maharaj is all but certain for selection.

“All options are available to us at the moment,” said the Proteas skipper.

“We’ve had some really good conversations with regards to what kind of combinations will suit us to take 20 wickets against Bangladesh.

“Playing two spinners in Durban is very much a talking point for us but it is just about what is the best way for us to get the 20 wickets.

“The conditions in Durban have been slow and I think we have got a lot of areas covered in that regard.

“As a captain, I’m sitting with maybe three different combinations that we can go with for our bowling unit.”

Hosting its first Test match since 2019, crowds of about 5,000 are expected on each day of the game, as the government eased some COVID-19 restrictions.

Earlier, Elgar spoke of how he hoped the surface will be able to last five days, even though Test matches at the venue seldom go the distance.

More grass please

“We want more grass on the wicket and preparations have gone well from what I have seen,” he said.

“Hopefully they can make the pitch and bit more hard, with pace and bounce, but we want a wicket that can go the five days.

“It’s been a while since Kingsmead had a Test match and it would be great to go all five days.”

The expected line-up will see Elgar open with Sarel Erwee and Keagan Petersen will come in at first drop, after he missed the recent series against New Zealand.

Temba Bavuma and Kyle Verryenne are virtually guaranteed of selection, while either of the uncapped duo Khaya Zondo and Ryan Rickleton should slot in at six.

Wiaan Mulder is the likely South Africa number seven, with Maharaj, Lutho Sipamla, Duanne Olivier and Glenton Stuurman making up the expected XI.