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Indians look to reclaim pride, equalise series against SAfrica

cricket Updated: Dec 25, 2010 13:30 IST
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Battered into submission in the first Test despite Sachin Tendulkar's batting heroics, world number one India will aim to reclaim their bruised pride and level the series against a rampaging South Africa in the second cricket Test starting in Durban on Sunday.

The visitors are smarting from an innings and 25 runs defeat in Centurion, where their famed line-up capitulated so badly in the first innings that it became impossible to salvage the match in the second essay despite Tendulkar's historic 50th Test ton.

In their previous Tests at the ground, India managed a draw in 1992-93 but lost by 328 runs in 1996-97, and by 174 runs in 2006-07.

However, going into tomorrow's game, the omens have been good so far with pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, who sat out in Centurion due to a hamstring strain, back to full fitness for the must-win match of the three-Test series.

Add to this, South Africa's not-so-impressive recent record in Kingsmead. Graeme Smith's men have suffered a couple of massive defeats at the venue in recent times (by 175 runs to Australia in 2008-09 and an innings and 98 runs against England last year).

But that would hardly make a difference after the toss of coin tomorrow morning, something that Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni is not that good at.

The curator has promised a fair track which would have as much for the bowlers as for the batsmen and that should be music to Indian ears considering that the visiting batsmen seemed to have no clue on how to deal with short-pitched stuff on the Centurion pitch.

The batting did come good in the second innings of that highly forgettable match for the Indians but the form of a few remains a concern.

One among them is Suresh Raina, who has scored 32, 3, 20, 3, 1 and 5 in his last six Test innings, and he could well lose his pace in the side to the young Cheteshwar Pujara.

But the big guns such as Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and Dhoni himself showed they were in good touch at least in the second innings of the Centurion Test.

Their contribution would be crucial against the quality pace attack of the South Africans.