ICL: Indian Cricket League

South Africa set to hit India with pace battery


South Africa are set to pick an all-pace bowling attack as they seek to exploit India’s frailty against the lifting ball in the first Test starting at the Wanderers Stadium on Friday.

Left-arm spinner Nicky Boje was not replaced after his sudden retirement from international cricket on Tuesday while unorthodox left-armer Paul Adams was released from the squad to play for his franchise team. That leaves a pace battery of Makhaya Ntini, Dale Steyn, Andre Nel and Shaun Pollock, backed up by all-rounder Jacques Kallis, to mount an all-out assault on the Indian batting.

The evidence of India’s tour so far suggests that it could be a winning tactic. India’s top order batting failed miserably when they were trounced 4-0 in a one-day series. And their leading batsmen failed to fire in two innings in a warm-up match against the Rest of South Africa last weekend, even though the Indians won with a day to spare.

Yet South Africa’s plan could backfire if the Indian batsmen live up to their pedigree.

The Wanderers pitch was once regarded as second only to Perth in Australia in terms of pace and bounce but in recent years it has lost its sting and has often proved a batting paradise. There was a good covering of grass on Wednesday, however, although that could change before play starts.

Sachin Tendulkar, India’s master batsman, has yet to hit top form in South Africa but there were glimpses of his best when he top-scored with 55 in the final One-day International (ODI), while VVS Laxman has shown that he is a capable player against fast bowler.

The return of Sourav Ganguly adds experience and skill to the Indian batting line-up while Virender Sehwag has had a miserable tour in which he has only scored 39 runs in five innings.

Squads: South Africa: Graeme Smith (captain), Jacques Kallis (vice-captain), Hashim Amla, Mark Boucher (wicket-keeper), AB de Villiers, Herschelle Gibbs, Andrew Hall, Andre Nel, Makhaya Ntini, Shaun Pollock, Ashwell Prince, Dale Steyn.

India: Rahul Dravid (captain), VVS Laxman (vice-captain), Virender Sehwag, Wasim Jaffer, Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wicket-keeper), Dinesh Karthik, Munaf Patel, Zaheer Khan, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, VRV Singh, Irfan Pathan, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh.

Umpires: Mark Benson (ENG), Daryl Harper (AUS). TV umpire: Karl Hurter (RSA). Match referee: Roshan Mahanama.

Source:The News

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