No pre-match and post-match media conference for a cricket match can be over without one question: “How important will the toss be?” for the former and then it is slightly changed to “Do you think winning/losing the toss made all the difference?” for the post-match conference.
However, the question was relevant when South Africa coach Mickey Arthur addressed the media after his team’s rigorous practice session on Wednesday.
With the Green Park wicket set to crumble, the team batting first will have a huge advantage against their opponents in the third and final Test, which starts here on Friday.
And when the cliched question was put to the South Africa coach, Arthur said, “Very very important. In a way it’s sad that the toss is going to be so crucial for the outcome of the match.”
And with India trailing the series going into the match, if the spin of the coin will not be in favour of their skipper’s (not necessarily Anil Kumble since he hardly bowled in the nets on Wednesday and will undergo a fitness test on Thursday) favour, they will find it difficult to save the series.
In such a scenario, Arthur wasn’t surprised to see a wicket that will assist the spinners. “We expected such a wicket after what happened in Ahmedabad,” Arthur said.
“The wicket will go through the top very early but we are prepared for it. We are prepared for all the eventualities that will arise from the pitch.”
The South Africans have relied on pace in the two Tests and it paid off in Ahmedabad as their pace trio – Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini and Morne Morkel – shared 19 of the 20 wickets to give South Africa the lead. Arthur, though, hinted that they could go in with two spinners on such a wicket.
“We expect India to go in with three spinners on this track,” Arthur said.
“We also have the option of having two spinners. Robin (Peterson) is a quality spinner and he proved it in Chittagong (against Bangladesh last month) where he took five wickets in an innings.”
‘I don’t feel the heat at all’
After demolishing Bangladesh on their home soil, South Africa are looking forward to seal the series against India here.
And if fast bowler Morne Morkel is to be believed, the South Africans have got used to the heat very well in India.
“When we were in Bangaldesh, we could get acclimatised with the conditions,” Morkel said. “In fact when I go out there now, I don’t feel the heat at all.”
And Morkel it seems has devised a new delivery that would help him on a spinner-friendly track in Kanpur: “Off-cutters at 140 (kmph).”