Shahzad: Would've loved to play Steyn

"This wicket is good to face pacers; the ball comes good onto the bat. I’m not happy that Steyn didn’t play."

Mohammad Shahzad scored 44 from just 19 balls.   -  PTI

Towards the end of what turned out be a quickfire media conference, just like the way he bats, Afghanistan wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad was asked whether he was disappointed to have not faced Dale Steyn, the fearsome fast bowler who was dropped to improve the balance of the side.

“I would have loved to play Dale Steyn because Dale Steyn is not dangerous,” pat came the reply. “Morris is very dangerous because he has height and swings the ball. Dale Steyn only has pace. This wicket is good to face pacers; the ball comes good onto the bat. I’m not happy that Steyn didn’t play.”

Moments after that, South Africa captain Francois du Plessis entered the enclosure. It came as no surprise that before being bulldozed with queries about the Proteas’ pacers spraying it all over for the second time in 48 hours, the captain was asked to respond to Shahzad’s take on Steyn.

“First of all, I like his confidence,” du Plessis said with a grin, before explaining the rationale behind explaining Steyn’s exlusion for what turned out to be their first win in the World Twenty20. “The wicket, we obviously played here the other night and the thinking behind the wicket was that for the seamers it skids on, especially in the first six overs and there is not much swing. And because Dale is quite a skiddy bowler, on a wicket like this, the thinking was that it wouldn’t suit him much."

“It is not the Mumbai wicket where is there a bit of extra pace and bounce, it just skids through so we wanted to bring in a guy like David Wiese, who bowls a bit of variation. The wicket looked a bit brown as well so we thought pace off the ball would help and he also strengthens our batting. So yeah, the right decision for us as a team.”

After Steyn was clobbered for 35 runs off his two overs, including 23 in his opening over, by the England batsmen two nights ago, South Africa decided to open Kagiso Rabada and Kyle Abbott. But the duo was still taken to the cleaners by an on-song Shahzad.

Duminy injured

Pacers’ performance in the Powerplay overs won’t be the only major concern for South Africa management going into a four-day break. It would be hoping that Jean-Paul Duminy’s left hamstring, hurt while chasing a ball in the opening over of Afghanistan’s chase, recovers in time before the clash against the West Indies in Nagpur on Friday.

“We will have to assess him over the next five days. He is obviously a big player for us so we are hoping he will get fit,” du Plessis said.

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