Peterson stakes claim for India tour

South Africa left-arm spinner Robin Peterson looks set to board the flight for India after claiming his maiden five-wicket haul in the second Test against Bangladesh.

The 28-year-old finished with impressive figures of 5-33 as the Proteas wrapped up the two-Test series against Bangladesh with a comprehensive innings and 205-run win on Monday.

Captain Graeme Smith was quick to acknowledge the contribution of Peterson in the win and backed him for a place in the squad for the three-Test series against India, beginning later this month.

“Robin did really well in the game. He adds value to the team if there’s turn in the pitch,” Smith said.

“We’ve said before also that we want to take two spinners to the subcontinent. Paul Harris has obviously done very well for us and he’s coming back now.
But Robin’s performed so well, he’s probably moved into that second slot.”

With Peterson coming strongly into the picture, it appears there might be no place for Johan Botha, who was drafted into the squad for Bangladesh in place of a then-injured Harris.

Peterson, who has 14 wickets from six Tests, got a look-in for the second match after being ignored for the first in Dhaka.

His show in Chittagong seems to have filled the last gap in the puzzle, as it was the spin-bowling department that had been causing team management worries ahead of the India tour.

Coach Mickey Arthur said he was pleased with the mix of the Test squad as the pacemen and spinners had proved they could bowl with success on subcontinent wickets.

“We had a plan when we arrived here. We wanted to master the reverse swing on these tracks and we did that well,” he said.

“There’s still a little tweaking to do. We used the bouncer, one of our main weapons on these slow and low wickets, to good effect, and the biggest thing is that we have proved we have the right mix in our attack to take 20 wickets.

“Everything has looked good about this squad here and we look forward to the Indian trip,” he said.

Smith was also pleased that his bowling attack could adapt to the tough conditions, and singled out speedster Dale Steyn for special praise.

Steyn was declared player of the series after picking up 14 wickets from the two Tests. He has now taken 63 wickets from nine Tests this season to emerge as one of the most exciting talents in world cricket.

“Once the batsmen give Dale a sniff, then he barges right through the door. He is doing so well at the moment,” Smith said.

“Dale was backed up well by Makhaya Ntini and even Morne Morkel—it was a huge learning curve for him, he was bowling on the subcontinent for the first time,” Smith said.

He added that the performance of the team against Bangladesh, especially the bowlers, would give every player a lot of confidence going into the India series.

“This was a really good Test for us and I’m very happy. We thought about things and implemented them before we get to India and we got our game in place in these conditions.”—AFP

Abhaya Srivastava

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