South Africa aim to emulate fightback
South Africa failed to repeat their Perth heroics in Johannesburg and were beaten comprehensively, but Australia will be aware that the home team has had the experience, quite recently, of bouncing back from being 1-0 down to win a three-Test series. India beat them for the first time in South Africa at the Wanderers in 2006-07 but lost the next two Tests in Durban and Capetown. West Indies caused a massive upset the following year in Port Elizabeth, but the hosts again recovered to take the rubber 2-1 with convincing wins in the subsequent games. South Africa will bank on their excellent record in Durban - since readmission, they've won eight Tests and lost two - but they'll know that their only defeat at the venue in the last nine years came at the hands of Australia in March 2006.
|South Africa (overall)||35||13||9||13||1.44|
|South Africa (since readmission)||16||8||2||6||4|
|Australia (since 1991)||3||1||1||1||1|
Jacques Kallis has been the most successful among South Africa's batsmen in the current squad at Kingsmead - he's 69 shy of reaching 1000 runs at the venue - with four centuries, all consecutive, in five Tests since 2002. In six Tests before that, he had only managed two fifties. The others, though, have mixed records. Graeme Smith averages a modest 31.81 in seven Tests but struck form at the ground with a half-century against India in 2006, and followed that up with an aggressive 147 against West Indies the next year, setting up an innings win. Mark Boucher is next in the list with 30.38 in 10 Tests, but AB de Villiers has impressive figures, averaging 64.20 with a century and two fifties in four Tests. Neil McKenzie and Hashim Amla have struggled in Durban, managing just one half-century between them in 11 innings.
|AB de Villiers||4||321||64.20||2/1|
Among the Australians in the squad, Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey are the only two to have played a Test at Kingsmead. Ponting has performed splendidly at the venue, averaging 85.50 in two Tests, including a century in each innings in his team's 112-run win in 2006. In the same Test, and in his only innings in Durban, Hussey made 75.
Makhaya Ntini has done well in Durban, averaging 24.62 - his career average is 28.17 - in eight Tests, and taking a wicket in each of his 16 innings. He took eight in the win over India in 2006 to turn the tide in favour of South Africa in the series after they had lost the first Test. On the other hand, Kallis has managed just 15 wickets in 11 Tests at an average of 37.80; he concedes 30.97 runs per wicket overall. Dale Steyn has played just two Tests at the venue, capturing ten wickets - including 6 for 72 against West Indies last year - at 23.80 apiece.
Though pace bowlers have taken far more wickets at Kingsmead since 2000, spinners have a better average. South Africa, however, did not play a specialist spinner in their last two Tests in Durban and have relied primarily on pace throughout, but with Paul Harris bowling well, their approach this time might be different.
Since 2000, spinners have done well in the first and the fourth innings, averaging 29.37 and 28.72 respectively. For South Africa, they have been relatively disappointing with 17 wickets in over eight years at 39.41 apiece as opposed to the fast bowlers' 26.50. Overseas spinners have done considerably better, capturing 39 wickets at 26.48, including a matchwinning effort from Shane Warne in early 2006. For Australia, Michael Clarke could be given extended spells.
|Pace since 2000||1991.2||6580||194||33.91||3.30||6/0|
|Spin since 2000||565.1||1703||56||30.41||3.01||3/1|
|Pace for SA since 2000||1090||3339||126||26.50||3.06||4/0|
|Spin for SA since 2000||212.4||670||17||39.41||3.15||0/0|
Teams have preferred to field first - they've done so in five out of eight occasions - in Durban since 2000, and have won each time. The three times teams have opted to bat first, they've won twice and drawn once. Over the last nine years, the pitch has tended to favour the bowlers in the first innings and ease significantly in the second, third and fourth innings.
Siddhartha Talya is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo