Steyn, Tahir face fitness tests

FITNESS worries over bowlers Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir could thwart South Africa’s plan to play a full-strength team against Netherlands at the World Cup on Thursday.

Proteas coach Corrie van Zyl said the readiness of fast bowler Steyn and legspinner Imran Tahir, South Africa’s two key bowlers in its opening win over West Indies, would be assessed at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium later on Wednesday.

Steyn has a bruised right side and Tahir was diagnosed with a respiratory infection over the weekend. Steyn is the main worry for the Group B game, according to the coach.

South Africa would also take “every precaution” against a possible upset against Netherlands, Van Zyl said, and so would field its strongest possible lineup.

The Proteas are expected to earn an easy victory over a downcast Dutch team which was beaten heavily by West Indies. But Van Zyl still said he wanted to unleash his best team, and wouldn’t be using the game to look at squad players.

“If you underestimate your opponents it’s tempting (to try out other players), but we need to go with our strongest combinations,” Van Zyl said. “This is only our second game and we have been here for quite a while so it’s important that we keep the momentum and keep things going.”

South Africa has played just one game at the World Cup so far in a schedule that has given the team a weeklong break between its first two matches. Van Zyl said he wanted South Africa’s first-choice team to have more game-time.

“We’re looking for not much more than winning the game,” he said. “In this whole campaign we have set ourselves the goal of taking one game at a time and therefore it’s important that we don’t look a lot further than that.

“We want to win the game, that’s really important, and make sure our combinations our right going forward.”

Van Zyl said conditions would be important at the PCA Stadium in Mohali, where the pitch is tipped to provide more pace and bounce than other Indian wickets. It could see South Africa switch to a more pace-heavy bowling attack after it picked three specialist spinners against West Indies in Delhi.

“We have got a lot of (bowling) options and that’s good to have,” Van Zyl said. “I think it’s a long time since the South African team had these options available.

“They (Netherlands) are an allround good side, if we want to underestimate them we might run into trouble. We are certainly not doing that. We are making sure we take every precaution, if that’s the right word.”  – Sapa

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