Johannesburg: Bracing up for what promises to be an exhausting cricket tour of India, South Africa on Thursday named three specialist spinners in their Test squad for the four-match Mahatma Gandhi-Nelson Mandela Series.
Both Imran Tahir and Dane Piedt returned to the squad to join incumbent Simon Harmer for a three-pronged spin attack.
"We want to keep all our options open for the Test Series," commented CSA selection convener, Linda Zondi.
"We also have JP Duminy as an option in this department and I believe we have covered all our bases by having both holding and attacking spin options in our squad. It is good to have Dane back from his injury and Imran was our No. 1 spinner for our last Test series on the sub-continent against Sri Lanka," he added.
Zondi also confirmed that Dane Vilas would retain the gloves in this format.
"It is very important that we maintain consistency in our selections and Dane hardly had the chance to make his mark in Bangladesh where the series was so badly disrupted by the weather."
Tahir also returns to the Proteas T20 squad in place of Aaron Phangiso while there are also recalls for Chris Morris and Marchant de Lange.
"The tour to India is a very long one," emphasised Zondi.
"It lasts for more than two months and we can't expect Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel to field too heavy a workload. Chris comes back after a spell out through injury while Marchant has done well at the IPL. It is an ideal opportunity to explore our back-up options ahead of the ICC World Twenty20 which will be played in India. It is vital in this format to get wickets up front.
"Imran is our No. 1 bowler in the T20 format and we need him to play every series between now and the ICC tournament while Eddie Leie will be our second spinner as we want to have another look at what he can do.
"Chris is also a potential candidate for a position as a bowling all-rounder in the ODI team so this is another option we want to explore. We also believe he is well suited to the conditions we will encounter there."
Rilee Rossouw has been ruled out of the T20 squad through injury but should return to full fitness in time for the ODI series. His place in the T20 squad will be taken by new cap Khaya Zondo.
Zondo had the second best batting average of 38.50 (behind Quinton de Kock) for South Africa A in the recent triangular ODI series in India and also had the best strike rate of those who played in all four matches (106.94). He will become the 65th player to represent the Proteas in the T20 format.
The more than two-months long tour will begin with a 50-over practice game at Delhi's Feroz Shah Kotla, followed by 3 T20 Internationals (October 2,5 and 8), 5 ODIs (October 11, 14, 18, 22 and 25) and 4 Tests starting November 5.
In between the visiting South African team will also play a two-day game against Indian Board President's XI in Mumbai on October 30-31.
Test squad: Hashim Amla (capt), AB de Villiers (vice-capt), Temba Bavuma, JP Duminy (Cape Cobras), Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Simon Harmer, Imran Tahir, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander, Dane Piedt, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Stey, Stiaan van Zyl), Dane Vilas.
ODI squad: AB de Villiers (capt), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn.
T20 squad: Faf du Plessis (capt), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, Marchant de Lange, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, Eddie Leie, David Miller, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, David Wiese, Khaya Zondo.