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April 10, 2008
Friday, April 11, 2008 Start time 09:30 am local time (04:00 GMT)
Kanpur's Green Park is known to produce more draws than results - 12 in 19 Tests to be precise - but after India's embarrassing submission on a green first-day Ahmedabad pitch, the groundstaff have reportedly prepared a turner to try and suit what has traditionally been India's strength - spin. Trailing 0-1 going into the final Test, India are up against it and may rely on a three-pronged spin attack to level the series.
The pitch looks extremely dry and has no grass cover. Anil Kumble and the curator felt it would break as early as the third day and assist spin from there on. Gary Kirsten, India's coach, is reported to have been taken aback by the track on first inspection. If all predictions hold true, neither side will want to bat last. The toss will be extremely crucial.
The bounce is expected to be on the lower side which, given Dale Steyn's raw pace, could also work in South Africa's favour. If they win then Graeme Smith will become his country's most successful captain after equalling Hansie Cronje's record of 27 victories in Ahmedabad. South Africa will also be the first side to win in India since Australia in 2004.
Form guide - India
Last five matches: LWDDL
Player to watch: Given the nature of the pitch and the slight doubt surrounding Kumble's fitness, Harbhajan Singh could be the biggest threat to South Africa. After his captain he is the only bowler with some degree of success at this ground, with eight wickets at 28.62 here.
Form guide - South Africa
Last five matches: WWWDW
Player to watch: Steyn has been hot all series and could again be a pain in India's neck. If the pitch does stay low, it's not improbable to envision Steyn causing trouble with the ball darting around the batsmen's ankles at extreme pace. He has ran through the tail with ease but it's the bigger, better batsmen that could be in for a spot of bother.
Injury concerns mean India might end up re-jigging their bowling line-up again. Kumble will play permitting a fitness test on the morning, and if he doesn't make the cut Ramesh Powar could come in as the third spinner to go with Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla. Ishant Sharma's fitness is being monitored and he is the likely candidate to partner Sreesanth with the new ball. Irfan Pathan applied himself excellently with the bat in Ahmedabad but his bowling was pedestrian and could face the axe.
Smith is most certain to maintain the winning combination from Ahmedabad. Even though the pitch is expected to assist spin, and they have Robin Pietersen as another left-arm option, South Africa are tipped to play just the one spinner in Paul Harris.
India (probable): 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Wasim Jaffer, 3 Rahul Dravid, 4 VVS Laxman, 5 Sourav Ganguly, 6 Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), 7 Anil Kumble (capt), 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Piyush Chawla, 10 Sreesanth, 11 Ishant Sharma.
South Africa (probable): 1 Neil McKenzie, 2 Graeme Smith (capt), 3 Hashim Amla, 4 Jacques Kallis, 5 Ashwell Prince, 6 AB de Villiers, 7 Mark Boucher (wk), 8 Morne Morkel, 9 Paul Harris, 10 Dale Steyn, 11 Makhaya Ntini.
Umpires: Billy Doctrove and Asad Rauf.
Weather: The weather in Kanpur is very hot, with clear skies and a chance of a few clouds as the game progresses. The temperatures are expected to hover around the 37 degrees centigrade mark, warmer than it was during the second Test.
Stats & trivia
"We expected such a wicket for this match after what happened in Ahmedabad. The wicket will go through the top very early but we are prepared for it. We are quiet confident of doing well in this match also."
Mickey Arthur, South Africa's coach
"It is an ideal wicket for a Test match. But it will not be like the one we had for the last Test match here. This wicket will produce a result."
Shiv Kumar, the Green Park curator
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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