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India look to make history in South Africa

Dravid and Chappell will be fully aware that India had squandered a few good starts.

india Updated: Dec 25, 2006 17:29 IST

Already ahead 1-0 in the three-match series against South Africa, a resurgent India will look to do an encore in the second Test starting here Tuesday to win the first ever Test series in this country.

A confident India scripted 123-run verdict in Johannesburg to etch their maiden Test win on South African soil - and that too with more than one-and-half days to spare - last week.

Captain Rahul Dravid will again look to pacer Sreesanth, who took eight wickets in the match, to play the lead role in the win and was adjudged the Man of the Match, to repeat his Wanderers performance.

It was the pace bowling trio Sreesanth, comeback man Zaheer Khan and Vikram Raj Vir Singh who were the catalysts of the famous win.

They shared 14 of the 20 wickets that fell, giving South Africa a dose of their own medicine - pace bowling. A pitch prepared for speedsters Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini, Shaun Pollock, Andre Nel and Jacques Kallis was fully exploited by the Indians, leaving the home team management embarrassed.

It was a fine reversal of fortunes by India, which had lost the preceding one-day international series 0-4 without a fight.

Now it is time for India, whose batsmen have always been considered 'weak' on lively, bouncy overseas pitches, to deliver the knockout punch.

Dravid and coach Greg Chappell will be fully aware that India had allowed a few good starts to go begging, letting the opposition to stage a comeback.

On the 2002 tour of the West Indies, India led 1-0 but then allowed the home side to rally back. In 2003-04 in Australia, India won at Adelaide but dropped guard to let the hosts come back and draw the series.

Two years ago, in Pakistan, India, thanks to Virender Sehwag's epoch-making triple century, won the first Test in Multan, but the home side bounced back to win in the next match in Lahore. This time, India won the Ralwalpindi Test to script a historic series win.

Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly, captain in all three series but not now, were all there when the team conceded fine starts. It is a strange coincidence that three of the four - Ganguly being the exception - are currently struggling for form.

Apart from the big three, Wasim Jaffer has also failed to extend the form he displayed in the West Indies after being recalled.

The bowlers have delivered for most part of the tour so far. India and its fans will now expect the batsmen to deliver. More than in the first Test, the batsmen will need to make a quick and lasting impact at the Kingsmead ground.

Even though Singh did a decent job as the third pacer, he could be asked to sit out if preferred pacer Munaf Patel is declared fully fit from his ankle injury.

A few days ago there was a talk about a change in the opening pair also, but it seems that both Sehwag and Jaffer would be given another opportunity to come good. There was speculation that Gautam Gambhir, a left-hander unlike the other two openers, could be the replacement after he made 79 in a practice game.

South Africa too could make one or two changes after their top batsmen, barring Ashwell Prince in the second innings, failed and the bowlers, except for Shaun Pollock, were largely unimpressive.


India: Rahul Dravid (captain), V.V.S. Laxman (vice-captain), Virender Sehwag, Wasim Jaffer, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wicket-keeper), Anil Kumble, Sreesanth, Zaheer Khan, Vikram Raj Vir Singh

South Africa: Graeme Smith (captain), A.B. de Villiers, Jacques Kallis, Herschelle Gibbs, Ashwell Prince, Hashim Amla, Mark Boucher (wicket-keeper), Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini, Andre Nel, Morne Morkel, Paul Harris and Andrew Hall

Umpires: Mark Benson (England) and Asad Rauf (Pakistan)
Match referee: Roshan Mahanama (Sri Lanka)

First Published: Dec 25, 2006 17:29 IST