January 2, 2019 / 1:05 PM / 6 months ago

Cricket: South Africa to play both Philander, Olivier in second test against Pakistan

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa are to keep up their pace barrage of Pakistan’s frail batting line-up as captain Faf du Plessis said that fast bowler Duanne Olivier will be retained for the second test at Newlands starting on Thursday.

Cricket - South Africa v Pakistan - First Test - SuperSport Park Stadium, Centurion, South Africa - December 26, 2018 South Africa's Duanne Olivier celebrates bowling out Asad Shafiq. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Olivier recorded career-best figures of 11-96 as South Africa won the first test in Pretoria by six wickets. However, his place was immediately under threat after Du Plessis said that stalwart all-rounder Vernon Philander would play in Cape Town on his return from injury.

Du Plessis has now suggested that both will get a run, which means either no place for spinner Keshav Maharaj in the side, or one fewer batsman in the line-up with Philander coming to the crease at number seven.

“We’ve got a lot of skill in our bowling attack and Duanne is more an enforcer and a guy that puts you on the back foot,” Du Plessis told reporters on Wednesday.

“It can sometimes be a bit challenging for batters, especially when they come from the sub-continent, where the ball doesn’t bounce as high.

“He’s a fit guy that can bowl long spells and I like to have that in the armoury. He runs at you and is around your head most of the time. It’s not comfortable for anyone.”

Both options for South Africa to fit Philander and Olivier in the side carry risk. Pakistan will have their premier seamer Mohammed Abbas back from injury and playing one batsman short against a touring attack that gave them plenty of alarm in the first test could be problematic.

But Newlands also has a surface that takes spin later in the test and leaving out Maharaj means no recognised slow bowler in the team.

STILL DECIDING

“We still deciding what we need to do,” Du Plessis added. “Historically, Newlands is a ground where the pitch spins a bit so it’s about finding that balance. For us, it’s always a tricky circumstance to try and find out what that is.

“There are a few combinations, whether it’s the extra seamer, whether it’s the spinner or whether it’s playing a batter less, it’s something we speak about quite regularly.”

Philander has batted at number seven in 13 previous test innings, but without much success having managed just a single half-century and an average a little over 18.

South Africa have won all three previous tests against Pakistan at Newlands and have just four defeats in 24 tests at all venues against the sub-continent side.

Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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