Is Shamsi RSA's Ace in the Hold For the T20 World Cup?

21 Jul 2021

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South Africa's road to the T20 World Cup has been a bumpy one off the pitch. The rumoured return of AB de Villiers falling apart and the exclusion of Faf du Plessis and Chris Morris has hit them hard on paper. Everyone expected South Africa to struggle, but that hasn't been the case so far.

South Africa has held its own against West Indies and Pakistan this year. While Quinton de Kock continues to plunder runs for fun at the top of the order, the emergence of Aiden Markram and George Linde, in particular, has worked wonders.

However, it has been South Africa's bowling attack that has paved the way for countless wins over the last few years. While the pace trio of Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada will always hog the spotlight, for once, it isn't any one of them.

Tabraiz Shamsi has played a key role in South Africa's recent success in the shortest format. The South African leggie has picked wickets for fun while not compromising on the economy, resulting in him being ranked the top bowler in the format. Heading into the World Cup, South Africa is definitely a contender, with Shamsi's contributions being key.

Surely a few might wonder how an inconsistent backup option to the great Imran Tahir has flipped the script and outshone the likes of Rabada and Nortje. To answer your questions, here's some much-needed insight to kickstart your day!

Shamsi Tops the Wicket-takers Charts for Bowlers in T20Is this Year!

Ever since Imran Tahir retired in 2019, South Africa has lagged in the middle overs. Without Tahir's control and wicket-taking ability in the middle overs, South Africa's bowling attack looked toothless. However, Shamsi has gone some way into rectifying this.

Often trying too many things, Shamsi has begun sticking to his strength, setting up batsmen and deceiving them with his potent googly. The Chinaman is a rare breed, which hands Shamsi another layer of intrigue in this format.

He has understood the conditions like no other bowler, getting the ball to turn and not afraid to flight the ball as well. In 13 games for South Africa this year, he has picked 21 wickets at an average of nearly 14. In addition, his economy reads just 5.47. To cap it off, Shamsi's match score average hasn't dipped below the 50-mark this year, with his average of 74.28 being the highest for any bowler (min 3 games)!

Shamsi hasn't just been a one-off bowler. He has achieved a match score of 50 or more on all but one occasion, a game in which Pakistan beat South Africa. His wickets in the middle overs have made it easier for the pacers to do their thing, relieving some pressure off of their shoulders.

However, Shamsi will need to keep this form going with the UAE set to favour his type of bowling. As the tournament progresses, he and George Linde will play a big role, and with leggies already dominating world cricket, Shamsi could stake a claim to being one of the best alongside Rashid Khan. But can he keep up this purple patch? Only time will tell!

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