Numero uno spot at stake as India take on South Africa
The pre series verbal war has set the stage for an electrifying battle as India gear up to face a hostile South Africa in the first of a three Test cricket series starting tomorrow to not just prove themselves as worthy world number ones but also improve their unarguably poor record in South Africa.cricket Updated: Dec 15, 2010 22:02 IST
The pre series verbal war has set the stage for an electrifying battle as India gear up to face a hostile South Africa in the first of a three Test cricket series starting here on Thursday to not just prove themselves as worthy world number ones but also improve their unarguably poor record in South Africa.
Described as the "final frontier" by coach Gary Kirsten, world number two South Africa will challenge India's number one status like no other side has in more than a year when the series kicks off at the Super Sport Park.
Graeme Smith's men will look to exploit the Indian batsmen's well-known susceptibility to the rising deliveries on bouncy tracks and the hosts have the necessary arsenal to do that -- the most potent of their weapons being world number one pacer Dale Steyn.
The Indians go into the series well aware that they have won just one out of the 12 Tests they have played in the rainbow nation. Even if they didn't, the Proteas have not missed an opportunity to remind the visitors of the unflattering record ever since their arrival.
In fact, the pre-series verbal sparring has added the ting of drama to the series which would make the contest even more interesting.
When South African coach Corrie van Zyl stated that "record books don't lie" in an apparent reference to India's over the years poor showing here, India coach Gary Kirsten was quick to retort that things have changed in the past couple of years.
Indeed, things do seem to have changed as the Indians have been on a dream run in the Test arena, winning seven of their last nine series, but most of them have come on the turning tracks of the subcontinent.
The pace and bounce of South Africa would not be as easy to adapt considering the visitors go into the series without playing a single warm up match.
Add to this, the Indians also have to deal with a couple of injury worries in pace spearhead Zaheer Khan and S Sreesanth. Zaheer suffered a hamstring injury during the fourth ODI against New Zealand while Sreesanth hurt himself during training.
Zaheer and Sreesanth are crucial to the team's chances given the conditions and it would be a massive jolt if they are ruled out.
First Published: Dec 15, 2010 13:47 IST