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South Africa have a score to settle vs India, says skipper Faf du Plessis

Indian cricket team batting coach Sanjay Bangar, who attended the pre-Test press conference in Cape Town in place of Virat Kohli, said the visitors could go for five seamers in the opening Test against South Africa cricket team.

cricket Updated: Jan 04, 2018 22:12 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Somshuvra Laha
Hindustan Times, Cape Town
South Africa vs India,SA vs IND,Freedom Series
Indian cricket team’s Ishant Sharma bowls to Shikhar Dhawan (left) during a nets session ahead of the first Test against South Africa cricket team at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town. (AFP)

South Africa cricket team captain Faf du Plessis is beseeched with a selection headache but he made it clear that the Proteas have a score to settle after the humiliating 0-3 defeat in India in 2015. With pacer Dale Steyn deemed fit, Du Plessis needs to make a conscious selection call going into the first Test.

“This selection is probably one of the hardest that we are going to have to make. There are just so many combinations you can look at. It’s a nice headache to have. It’s a possibility, especially up on the Highveld (to play four seamers), but we’re still talking about what could be our strongest XI,” said du Plessis at Thursday’s pre-match press conference.

“It’s a tough call. For me, he (Steyn) is the best bowler in the world. He hasn’t played for a while and he hasn’t got the overs under his legs that he would have wanted. But facing Dale in the nets, the skill feels like it hasn’t gone anywhere. He has got the same pace, and the same swing. Skill wise it’s like he has just jumped back on that bicycle and is riding again.”

India batting coach Sanjay Bangar, who attended the press conference instead of Virat Kohli, said they hadn’t decided on the final XI. “As of now the conditions we found, we expect the ball to seam around a bit on day one. On days two and three, they are going to be very good batting conditions. We will take into consideration the extent of moisture tomorrow on the surface and we will take it from there,” said Bangar when asked whether India would go with Rohit Sharma or five specialist bowlers.

This maybe the last time the core of Hashim Amla, de Villiers and du Plessis plays together against India in a Test series and the South Africa captain wants to make it count. “I don’t know when the next Test series against India is, but it’s probably the last time all of us play against India and there’s no better way than playing a series in South Africa. We were disappointed the last time we went there and we’ve got a score to settle, so we’re excited for this series,” he said.

The South Africa captain however was wary about not allowing India’s seamers get more advantage from the pitch than the home bowlers. “In a perfect world it will be a quick wicket that nips around a bit. We also want to try and eliminate spin as much as possible. You don’t want excessive seam movement because that brings both bowling attacks into the game. We feel with our seam resources, on a wicket that has some pace and bounce, we can exploit some of those areas in their batting line,” said du Plessis, before taking a small dig at Kohli when asked if there was a specific rivalry against Kohli.

“I see South Africa against India, I don’t see a rivalry between us. We don’t look at Virat. He doesn’t get more time than any of the other batters,” he shot back.

First Published: Jan 04, 2018 19:22 IST