India v South Africa, 2nd Test, Ahmedabad April 2, 2008

Kumble-Harbhajan partnership touches 50

Stats preview to the second Test between India and South Africa, in Ahmedabad

After the run-fest in Chennai, the bowlers will be hoping for more assistance from the pitch at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera, but going by recent Test data here, there is a good chance that this will be another batsman-dominated game. Three of the last four matches here have been drawn, though India won the last one - against Sri Lanka in 2005 - by a whopping 259-run margin.

Overall, India have won three Tests at this ground, with their only defeat coming against West Indies way back in 1983, when Ahmedabad hosted its first Test. The memories for South Africa, though, won't be as pleasant: in their only game here, in 1996, they were bundled out for 105 when chasing a victory target of 170.

Tests in Ahmedabad
Tests Win Loss Draw
India 8 3 1 4
South Africa 1 0 1 0
India, since 1999 4 1 0 3

Virender Sehwag's 319 was the high point of the Chennai Test, but South Africa might be encouraged to see his stats in Ahmedabad - in five innings, he has managed less than 30% of the runs he scored during a nine-hour stint at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. The rest of the Indian middle order, though, has enjoyed this venue: Sourav Ganguly leads the way with two hundreds in three Tests, while VVS Laxman has four 50-plus scores in as many Tests.

Indian batsmen in Ahmedabad
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Sourav Ganguly 3 324 81.00 2/ 1
Rahul Dravid 4 431 61.57 1/ 1
VVS Laxman 4 354 50.57 1/ 3
Virender Sehwag 3 86 17.20 0/ 0
Click here for the full list of Indian batsmen in Ahmedabad.

The weather conditions and the nature of the pitch will probably decide the composition of India's bowling attack, but whatever the final bowling attack, the onus of taking South African wickets will largely be on Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh. The last time they played here, the two bowlers took 17 out of 20 Sri Lankan wickets and starred in India's 259-run win. Overall, Kumble's haul of 35 wickets in six Tests is marginally better than Harbhajan's 22 in five.

Indian bowlers in Ahmedabad
Bowler Tests Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
Anil Kumble 6 35 25.31 66.4 3/ 1
Harbhajan Singh 4 22 26.09 68.1 2/ 1

The Test will also mark the 50th one in which both Kumble and Harbhajan have played together. Kumble has been more prolific in the 49 games so far, but Harbhajan averages more than four wickets per match too, and together they have been more than a handful for opposition batsmen. Thirty-two of these 49 games have been at home, of which India have won 14 and lost just five. Kumble's stats in those 14 victories are astounding: 114 wickets at an average of 16.87. (Click here for Kumble bowling summary in these 32 home Tests, and here for his bowling summary in all 49 games with Harbhajan.)

Harbhajan's numbers are exception as well, with 77 wickets in the 14 Tests he has won with Kumble at home, at an average of less than 20. (Click here for Harbhajan's bowling summary in the 32 Tests with Kumble at home, and here for his bowling summary in all 49 games with Kumble.)

Tests in which Kumble and Harbhajan have played together
Bowler Tests Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
Anil Kumble 49 272 26.95 59.0 19/ 6
Harbhajan Singh 49 197 32.52 69.3 16/ 2

South Africa's bowling will largely revolve around their pace attack, which means the numbers below won't encourage them much. In the last four Tests at this ground, fast bowlers average 53.50 per wicket, with only one bowler - Zaheer Khan - managing a four-wicket haul in an innings. Spinners, on the other hand, average an impressive 33.37, and have grabbed more than twice the number of wickets that fast bowlers have taken during this period.

Pace and spin in Ahmedabad since 1999
Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
Pace 36 53.50 106.5 0/ 0
Spin 83 33.37 73.1 6/ 2

If past record is any indicator, it's almost certain that the captain winning the toss will choose to bat. The only time the team didn't do that in eight Tests here was in the very first one, when Kapil Dev put West Indies in to bat. By the time the fourth-innings run-chase came around, the combination of an uneven pitch and West Indies' four-pronged pace attack was so lethal that India could only put up 103, losing the game by 138 runs.

The pitch here is clearly at its best for batting early in the match: teams average 40.36 per wicket in the first innings (59 in the first innings in the last four Tests), and less than 29 in the other three innings. (Click here for the overall summary of Tests played in Ahmedabad.)

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo