South Africa v India, 3rd Test, Cape Town

Newlands sets up delicious decider

The Preview by Sriram Veera

January 1, 2011

Comments: 119 | Text size: A | A

Match Facts


Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma celebrate India's series-levelling win, South Africa v India, 2nd Test, Durban, 4th day, December 29, 2010
Zaheer Khan's presence is a huge lift for the Indian bowling attack, but the youngsters have to learn to operate without his guidance © Associated Press
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January 2-6, Cape Town
Start time 10:30 (08.30 GMT, 02.00 IST)

The Big Picture

The entire series changed in a Durban minute, transferring the momentum India's way after their humiliation in Centurion. The moment that signaled India's ascent was the fall of Jacques Kallis, South Africa's best batsman, in the second innings. Sreesanth's ball reared up from short of length, darted in towards the batsman's throat and flew to gully. A familiar sight to Indians from a previous era, but with one huge twist: it was an Indian bowler who made a classy batsman hop, fend and get out.

South Africa's batsmen were looking good in Durban. Until Ishant Sharma got his fingers to a straight drive to accidentally run Kallis out in the first innings, the Indian attack looked lacklustre. It seemed that Zaheer Khan, much like Kapil Dev in those days, would end up with four or five wickets and the rest would simply leak runs. But the Indian bowlers seized the moment and South Africa collapsed. Twice.

And so the teams head into the Newlands tied at 1-1 and the series at stake. The pitch is supposedly batsman-friendly with spin expected to play a part later. The home batsmen should put up a better fight, while it will be interesting to see how their bowlers fare. Lonwabo Tsotsobe picked up a few key wickets but it seemed like it was a result of Indian batsmen trying to attack him after they saw off the tougher challenges from Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. If they don't repeat the same mistakes, the burden of wicket-taking will fall upon Steyn. Will Morkel, whose forte is bounce, be as effective in the decider as he was on friendlier surfaces earlier in the series? Can Paul Harris do more than just a holding job?

Zaheer's presence makes a big difference to India. Sreesanth and Ishant grew under his wing, and India will hope they can learn to fly on their own without Zaheer's presence at mid-off. Gautam Gambhir is expected to return and Virender Sehwag, who threatened to really take off in the second innings in Durban, is due for a big knock. If the surface plays out as the curator thinks it would, the bowlers could be the deciding factor.

Form guide

(most recent first)
South Africa: LWDDW
India: WLWDD

Watch out for...

If he survives Zaheer, Graeme Smith's tussle with Sreesanth should be fascinating to watch. In Durban, a riled Smith wagged his tongue and bat at Sreesanth but it backfired spectacularly. While Smith's dismissal may have been coincidental, there is no doubt that Sreesanth found more pace and venom after that verbal battle. Sreesanth might be a boy who refuses to grow up but he has enough skill to outdo the best in the business.

Mark Boucher doesn't play ODIs anymore and has failed with the bat in the first two Tests. He still looks very fit and his keeping hasn't suffered much, but can he lift his batting?

This surface presents Rahul Dravid with an opportunity to improve his poor record in South Africa; he has just one hundred in 20 innings in this country. He will hope to convert his starts into a big one at Newlands.

Pitch and conditions

The curator predicts a pitch with tennis-ball bounce, which will be good for batting - particularly on days two and three - and offer spin on days four and five. When the famed table-top mountain isn't visible to the folks down on the streets, it usually means there will be swing on offer. Rain is predicted for New Year's day, but the sun and the mountain peak should emerge during the match days.

Team news

Their batsmen might have flopped in the second Test but this South African unit has functioned well for some time now and they are unlikely to change the combination.

South Africa: (probable) 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Alviro Petersen, 3 Hashim Amla, 4 Jacques Kallis, 5 AB de Villiers, 6 Ashwell Prince, 7 Mark Boucher (wk), 8 Paul Harris, 9 Morne Morkel, 10 Dale Steyn, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe

Gautam Gambhir's return for M Vijay is expected to be the only change in the Indian XI.

India (probable): 1 Gautam Gambhir, 2 Virender Sehwag, 3 Rahul Dravid, 4 Sachin Tendulkar, 5 VVS Laxman, 6 Cheteshwar Pujara, 7 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Zaheer Khan, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Sreesanth

Stats and trivia

  • In Centurion, Sachin Tendulkar became the fifth batsman to pile-up seven or more hundreds in a calendar year. Mohammad Yousuf (nine hundreds in 2006) leads the list, while Viv Richards (1976), Aravinda de Silva (1997), and Ricky Ponting (2006), all hit seven hundreds.

  • Gambhir and Sehwag have ten hundred-plus opening partnerships in Tests. If they get one more here, they will surpass Sunil Gavaskar and Chetan Chauhan for the Indian record. The world record is held by Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes (16). Jack Hobbs and Bert Sutcliffe are second with 14.

  • Dale Steyn and Jacques Kallis have enviable records in Cape Town. For the full lowdown on Newlands' stats, click here.

Quotes

"Having Zaheer Khan lifts everybody else. He brings another dimension to the attack. He is skillful, and every one bowls around him ... They have caught well, fantastically well. Those three magnificent catches in the first innings swung the game."
Allan Donald on the importance of Zaheer Khan and the improving standards of Indian fielding

"There's a lot of talk about momentum, and it's important, but it's just there until the next game. We are approaching this game as starting fresh again, having the confidence of the previous win."
The spoils have been shared in the first two Tests, but Corrie van Zyl believes it is going to be a fresh start in Durban

"Sreesanth is developing into a fantastic Test bowler. The national selectors, team trainer, the bowling coach need to take special care about this boy and keep him match-fit because for the next one year India will be playing away from home."
Sourav Ganguly wants Sreesanth to be nurtured properly

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2011, 17:20 GMT)

The first Day is over.As said the three bowlers Zaheer,Sreesanth and Ishant tried to contain the South African batsmen.Well tommorow they are not so well supported by stars.Harbhajan may succeed tommorow to some extent.Amongst Indian Batsmen Gambhir and Dravid are expected to do well.Sehwag and sachin may have a mixed day.An outstanding knock is not expected.Dhoni of course may also play well.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2011, 16:15 GMT)

At 11.15 Hrs Local time of Cape town and 14.45 of IST the trouble will increase for South African batsmen and Dhoni will see some better things happening for India till Lunch.

Posted by SuperSharky on (January 2, 2011, 9:46 GMT)

I like Kevin Pietersen and Kepler Wessels and especially Viv Richards aproach in handling sledging on the field. Graeme Smith are just as Big Baby as Ricky Ponting. The wine and complain about everything. They don't play in the same spirit as all the cricket legends of the game before them. Graeme Smith are a Cry-Baby and we just have to get use to it.

Posted by SuperSharky on (January 2, 2011, 9:33 GMT)

Just like Bob Woolmer and Hansie Cronje. Or Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss. This Gary Kirsten and MS Dhoni are a formidable combination. And Kirsten grew up in Cape Town and he knows Newlands even before he went to school. South Africa needs to be at their best to get another Home-victory.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2011, 8:56 GMT)

At 11.15 Hrs Local time of Cape town and 14.45 of IST the trouble will increase for South African batsmen and Dhoni will see some better things happening for India till Lunch.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2011, 8:25 GMT)

Dhoni won the toss.Zaheer and Ishant Sharma have a good day.They can make the South African Batsmen under control in Capetown.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2011, 8:16 GMT)

Dhoni won the toss.Zaheer and Ishant Sharma have a good day.They can make the South African Batsmen under control in Capetown.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2011, 8:04 GMT)

I dont understand why ppl do mind sreesanth a lot. the latest example would be the smith one.. were smith was the one to be blamed,but sreesanth became the victim.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2011, 7:55 GMT)

@kirstenfan : Mate in case you call Kallis dismissal at Kingsmead as unlucky, so whould you call Dravid in 2nd innings at Centurion and MSD in 2nd innings at Centurion. at that point of time, MSD was beating Proteas bowlers to pulp. Anyways, in case you wont agree with me that it was actually India who was unlucky by losing the toss in 1st test, can you explain the batting failure of Proteas for being bundled out on a paltry 131 in 1st innings at Durban where the pitch was a shade better as compared to the Centurion pitch on Day 1. Anyways, your name is going to sound good to Indians as you are a fan of Indian team Coach. Chill mate.

Posted by   on (January 2, 2011, 7:49 GMT)

We expect Rahul Dravid , MS Dhoni and Harbhajan singh to show consistency in this match

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