Advantage spin on batting track
How will the wicket behave? The question nowadays has assumed astounding importance and is discussed as fervently before the match as the likely performance of the top players. And it was no different in Kanpur on Thursday, ahead of India taking the field against South Africa on November 20 in the first of a two-match Test series.
The first thing the players did after arriving at the ground for the practice session was to check out the 22-yard strip with a view to understanding its nature. And as usual, a few returned with smiles while others looked somewhat confused. "Well I am not a great judge of wickets; therefore I will just wait and see how it behaves and then try to adapt and play accordingly," said Dravid when asked about the wicket.
Coach John Wright however, seemed to have understood some of the mysteries that lie beneath the land. "I think it will offer no great pace and will start turning sooner than later," revealed Wright. So does his observation mean that India will stick to that winning formula in Mumbai of fielding three spinners and a seamer? "Well can't say that right now as we have not finalized the XI. Yes, the combination worked well for us in Mumbai but we will have to take the conditions into consideration before deciding," said Wright. He also dismissed reports that he was not happy with the commitment and attitude of players, saying that the lot was the best and they had his full backing.
"I just expect them to have hunger for victory and that is expected of every team at this level," he said.
The South Africans, on the other hand, were at their philosophical best when asked about the wicket. "It might turn, but that doesn't bother us and we are ready for the challenge," said coach Ray Jennings. He also made it clear that Kallis was fit and was certain to play the match. There were, however, some reports suggesting that he might be played purely as a batsman as he has not recovered fully from a strain. South Africa skipper Graeme Smith too was bubbling with confidence. "The Jaipur game has prepared us well for the Test," he said.