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India look for first Test win in South Africa

india Updated: Dec 15, 2006 17:20 IST
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India will look to put their poor runs in the one-day international series behind them and register their first ever Test victory in South Africa when they lock horns with the hosts in the first Test beginning here Friday.

Indian captain Rahul Dravid, who has recovered from a fractured finger injury to play after missing the last two of the five one-dayers, sounded optimistic Thursday, saying his team could draw motivation from the Test series win in the West Indies in May-July.

"It's been a disappointing few months. But we bounced back in the West Indies, and we can take heart from that," Dravid, who scored his maiden Test century here 10 years ago, said.

"The boys are very keen. There's a lot of ability in the group, and the top six or seven have done well all over the world. We have got the tools, now it's up to us to implement the plans and perform well over five days," added Dravid, the most consistent Indian batsman in the last few years.

His confidence also comes from the inclusion in the Test team of former captain Sourav Ganguly and Test specialist VVS. Laxman, who have been drafted to strengthen a batting line-up that failed miserably in the 0-4 one-dayer loss to South Africa.

It will not be easy for India to win the three-match Test series.

But leg-spinner Anil Kumble, who is set to play instead of off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, has fond memories of the Wanderers. He took his first five-wicket haul at this venue in 1992-93 when India toured the country for the first time.

South Africa has apparently asked the curators to prepare a pitch that has bounce and pace so that it assists their predominantly fast bowling attack and exposes the Indians'inherent weakness.

India played their last Test at the Wanderers about 10 years ago. But South Africa have also not had a good record on this ground. The home side lost two of its last five Tests here.

The last time South Africa played a Test here they lost to Australia by two wickets.

Teams:

South Africa (likely XI): Graeme Smith (captain), Herschelle Gibbs, Jacques Kallis, Hashim Amla, Ashwell Prince, A.B. de Villiers, Mark Boucher (wicketkeeper), Shaun Pollock, Andre Nel, Makhaya Ntini and Dale Steyn

India (likely XI): Rahul Dravid (captain), Virender Sehwag, Wasim Jaffer, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman, Sourav Ganguly, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wicketkeeper), Anil Kumble, Zaheer Khan, Sreesanth and Vikram Raj Vir Singh

Umpires: Daryl Harper (Australia) and Mark Benson (England)

Match referee: Roshan Mahanama (Sri Lanka)

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