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Bavuma to debut for SA

Proteas captain Hashim Amla is confident Temba Bavuma will play in the Boxing Day Test against the West Indies at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth, on Friday.

“It’s fitting that Temba should play, given that he has been in the squad,” Amla said in Port Elizabeth ahead of the second Test.

“In the last Test, Stiaan [Van Zyl] made his debut and scored a hundred so it would be nice if Temba could do the same.”

Bavuma would become the first black-African specialist batsman to play for South Africa.

Van Zyl scored an unbeaten century against the West Indies as the Proteas romped to an innings and 220 run victory in the first Test against the

tourists at SuperSport Park, in Centurion last week.

Amla said leg spinner Imran Tahir was also likely to play a key role at St George’s Park.

“Centurion does not turn as much as here in Port Elizabeth so a spinner will have more of a role to play.”

Tahir was a late addition to the squad after fellow spin merchant Robin Peterson sustained a cut to his left index finger ruling him out of the match on Tuesday,

An ankle injury which ruled out Quinton de Kock for the rest of the series during the first Test at Centurion last week paved the way for Bavuma to slot in at number seven.

After the retirements of stalwarts Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis during the last 12 months, a number of young players had showed promise according to Amla.

“We knew this team would go through a phase of transition, and this is a new look team. It’s exciting but also challenging.

“The exciting thing is that guys are getting more opportunities. There’s a lot of energy and a lot of desire on their part.”

However, Amla warned that the newer members of the squad could not yet be expected to perform as well as the more experienced players.

Despite the current spate of injuries within the Proteas squad, their captain was optimistic he had the right personnel at his disposal to maintain a winning combination.

“The injuries were quite unexpected. It seems like it’s been one of those series where both teams have suffered some blows,” he said.

“These are things that come your way. Fortunately we have got some depth with some guys to be reckoned with.”

West Indies captain Denesh Ramdin, meanwhile, believed a change in mental approach would help his side to be more competitive.

The tourists were outclassed in all departments by the top-ranked Proteas, but the apparent gulf between the sides was not technical according the skipper.

“It was more mental we would say, because a couple of players got starts in the first innings and a few more in the second,” said Ramdin.

Every batsmen in the top-four made it into the 30s in their first innings, but no West Indies batsman, in either innings, got past the 50 mark.

“The guys need to make 70, 80 or a big hundred by carrying on so the team won’t be under pressure.”

The last time the West Indies played in Port Elizabeth was the Boxing Day Test in 2007, where the visitors collected their one and only win on South African soil.

Ramdin believed his side could use those memories to spur them on to a much-improved performance.

“It was a good match for us in 2007. Shivnarine Chanderpaul made a century and Fidel Edwards bowled well.

“It was an all-round team effort so I hope we can put in another team effort on this tour, where we’re more consistent and can give the Proteas a fight.”

While the West Indies were placed eighth in the latest Test rankings, any decent performance from the Caribbean outfit would go a long way to restoring player confidence the captain said.

“Playing against the number one team in the world you want to do well. When you play well against them, if you do well, you get a lot of credit.

“Hopefully the guys will dig deep into themselves and pull out a magical performance.”

– Sapa

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