The ease with which the wristy and nimble-footed Indian batsmen negotiate spin is in stark contrast to their traditional vulnerability against genuine pace and steep bounce.

The Proteas would expect fast bowlers Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel to exploit that weakness in the Pool A game between the title favourites and the reigning champions but would not shy away from fielding the Pakistan-born Tahir.

"He's been one of our best bowlers over the last two years. There's no way that, unless there's some funny injury over the next 24 hours, that he's not going to play," De Villiers told reporters at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

"I see him as a match-winner against any team in the world."

It would be Tahir's first one-day international against India and his captain assured the 35-year-old he would not be thrown in the deep end.

"It's a matter of bowling him at the right times, and that's my job, to make sure he bowls at the right times in order to give him the best opportunity to win us games, and that's what he's best at doing," De Villiers said.

Former Australia batsman Mike Hussey joined the South Africa squad this week as a coaching consultant, a move not generally welcomed by local media and pundits Down Under.

The 39-year-old left-hander, who retired from international cricket two years ago and won a World Cup in 2007, had been a great help and shared some MCG know-how, De Villiers said.

"He's given us advice, yeah. Everything we covered the last few days when it comes to the analysis of the conditions, what to expect, what not to expect, we covered pretty much all of that.

"He was just there to give us some confirmation that we are on the right track. He let us know when we were talking nonsense, as well. It's just nice to have him around, a guy with great experience, a guy that's won a World Cup before."

Latest News from Sports News Desk