Duminy back with a bang
The good news for the Proteas is that JP Duminy is back with a bang.
He scored 150 not out against the Netherlands in a warm-up fixture for the Champions Trophy and showed no ill effects from the injury he suffered in Australia.
On the tour of Australia all those months ago he severed his Achilles tendon during the warm down after the first day’s play of the test match in Brisbane. He was operated on straight away and the road back to fitness was always going to be a long and arduous one.
The fact that Duminy is back in the fold helps the Proteas a lot as far as balance to the team is concerned.
From a batting point of view Duminy can slot in anywhere in the middle order. He runs well between wickets and he has the ability to play the big shots and finish the innings well. His presence in the batting lineup certainly helps to counteract the loss of Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis.
Duminy is also more than a useful off-spin bowler. He may not bowl his full quota of ten overs permitted in a one-day international but he has the uncanny knack of picking up wickets at crucial times. His ability anywhere in the field is more than adequate as well so he is just about the perfect one-day package.
The South African combination that will take on India in Cardiff next Thursday is taking shape. The batting will be strong as indeed will be the bowling. It should be a well balanced South African combination that will play the first match of the tournament.
India will be good too. They have a strong batting lineup but not quite the same strength in bowling. The Indian team will face outside pressure due to all the controversy surrounding the recently completed IPL.
The Indian squad will be under constant scrutiny and it will be difficult for them to ignore the pressure that the recent events surrounding the IPL have created. So far the powers that be are doing everything in their power to shield the players from this uncomfortable situation.
The Proteas fortunately have no such issues. The only slight distraction may be the change in coaching staff that is imminent after this tournament.
It is important to start the tournament well. The top two teams will progress to the knockout phase of the event. The group that India and South Africa find themselves in is pretty strong, so victory in the first match will take some of the pressure off.
Conversely a loss in that all-important first game will increase the pressure dramatically to qualify.
The winner of the eventual tournament may well come from the group of death that both India and South Africa find themselves in.