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Second Test anticipation


Similar contributions this weekend from those three survivors from that series would be most welcome for the South African cause

Picture: BackpagePix

TOMORROW’S second Test in Centurion against India promises to be an intriguing contest. South Africa will be looking to seal the three-match Test series and the dangerous Indian team will be determined to bounce back from a disappointing batting performance at Newlands.

To be fair neither side batted well. Considering the whole of day three was washed out, this meant 20 wickets fell over three days of play. No batsman reached triple figures, while only AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis and Hardik Pandya passed 50 during the course of the Test.

This is in stark contrast to the recent run-fest in the Ashes series between Australia and England.

There the five matches averaged 1 115 runs per Test. Here the Newlands first Test managed just 760 runs.

Worryingly Hashim Amla looks out of sorts with just 12 runs in his last three Test innings. Big runs from the experienced campaigner will go a long way to helping South Africa seal the series in Centurion.

New coach Ottis Gibson made a brave call opting for an extra bowler instead of the preferred formula of seven batsmen. However, it was strange that after winning the toss, captain Du Plessis didn’t unleash them straight away. Instead he opted to bat first and at one stage the Proteas were floundering at 13/3 in the first session.

However, in true Proteas fashion they fought back to a relatively respectable total of 286. But if one or two catches had been held onto it could easily have gone awry.

Dale Steyn’s injury will have sceptics calling for him to be put out to pasture. As he reaches his 35th birthday, most will agree he is in the twilight of his international career. But a fit-and-firing Steyn to line up for one last hurrah against the Australians alongside Mornê Morkel, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada is certainly a mouth-watering prospect.

Historically it would be harsh, but true, to say India have struggled in South Africa. They have not won a series on South African soil in six previous visits. Their best result was a drawn series in 2010/11 when the MS Dhoni-led side squared the three-match series with an 87-run win in Durban after losing the first Test in Centurion. The decider at Newlands played out to a draw.

The only time the two sides have previously played at SuperSport Park was in the first Test of that series, where Graeme Smith’s Proteas won by an innings and 25 runs. Morkel took 7/114 in that match and Amla and De Villiers scored 140 and 129 respectively.

Similar contributions this weekend from those three survivors from that series would be most welcome for the South African cause.