Illness-hit teams ready for decider
Jacques Kallis, the South African captain, has said that they are expecting to field their strongest team for the series decider against India on Sunday. The three-ODI series is currently level at 1-1.
South Africa were without Dale Steyn, who had the flu, and Justin Kemp, who was sidelined by a leg injury, during their six-wicket defeat against India in the second ODI on Saturday. "Dale's come a long way, Justin Kemp has been having treatment and hopefully by Sunday we'll have a full squad to choose from," said Kallis
He praised Morne van Wyk, the opener who replaced Graeme Smith for the series and scored a career-best of 82 in the second ODI. "He's done well. Graeme's been the one in the spot but when you've got guys putting pressure on other guys there's no spot in any team that should be taken for granted."
van Wyk, who waited four years to return to the ODI squad after making his debut against England at Lords in 2003, said, "The cricket back home is quite competitive and, like Jacques said, I'm still fairly young. You don't know if it [international cricket] is going to come around but you keep on hoping with performances you can get a look in."
Kallis was also impressed with Thandi Tshabalala, the offspinner who took the prized wicket of Sachin Tendulkar, and finished with 1 for 42 . "We wanted to have a good look at Thandi. With the next World Cup being in the subcontinent [in 2011], we realise we have to find a spinner and that is what we are trying to do. It was between me and him to be the fifth bowler and he did well."
Kallis's opposite number, Rahul Dravid has been heartened by the resilience his side have shown in the run-up to the deciding encounter. On the eve of Tuesday's opening match more than half the India squad were ill with flu and they went down to defeat before bouncing back on Friday.
"The victory is a big boost to the side - the boys have fought really hard. Our preparation for this tournament wasn't exactly ideal. We've had a tough few days, and the boys have responded really well. They have not complained - we have gone on and done what we needed to do and played good cricket - and we fully deserve to be level in the series."
Dravid added his side were the underdogs even though South Africa have also been hit by the same flu virus. "The rankings do definitely say we are the second-best team here. But one-day cricket is how you play on the day. It's not really about rankings or numbers. We knew we could give them a good run for their money - and we believe if we play some good cricket we can end up with the right result."
Pace bowlers Ajit Agarkar and Sreesanth have both yet to feature in the series because of flu but this has allowed India to play their two slow bowlers in Piyush Chawla and Ramesh Powar. Chawla has been particularly impressive in cold, overcast conditions more conducive to seam rather than slow bowling.
"One of the really gladdening things for me is to have seen how these young spinners have bowled, especially in these tough conditions," said Dravid. "They are used to playing in India, where it is warm and sunny and the ball grips and turns. But they have come here and immediately adjusted."
South Africa (probable) 1 AB de Villiers, 2 Morne van Wyk, 3 Jacques Kallis (capt), 4 Herschelle Gibbs, 5 JP Duminy, 6 Justin Kemp, 7 Mark Boucher (wk), 8 Andrew Hall, 9 Andre Nel, 10 Makhaya Ntini, 11 Dale Steyn
India (probable) 1 Sourav Ganguly, 2 Sachin Tendulkar, 3 Gautam Gambhir, 4 Rahul Dravid (capt), 5 Yuvraj Singh, 6 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 7 Piyush Chawla, 8 Ramesh Powar, 9 Ishant Sharma, 10 RP Singh, 11 Zaheer Khan