South Africa v India, 2nd Test, Durban December 25, 2010

Conditions key as India seek Durban resurgence

76

Match Facts

December 26-30, Durban
Start time 10:00 (08:00 GMT, 13:30 IST)

Pitch and conditions

This is perhaps the greenest track this Indian team might have ever played on. MS Dhoni reckons that Vadodara's IPCL track in his first year of first-class cricket was greener. It is thick grass with deep roots, but it's not just the greenness. Under the grass there is a crack around the good length area, just outside the off stump for a right-hand batsman batting from the dressing-room end. Moreover, the overhead conditions are a legend of mythical stature here. If the breeze blows from the north-east, from the sea towards land, it means clear weather and a good time for batting. If it blows towards the sea, it brings clouds, and hell for batsmen. The forecast is for overcast conditions, and it drizzled steadily for a half-hour today. You can't really say, as you could in Centurion, that the toss is a crucial thing.

The Big Picture

Strike one in Centurion. Strike two in Durban? South Africa would like to think so. They will hope that the sun doesn't come out and make the pitch unfriendly to seamers. Hashim Amla, the local lad, believes that the pitch will have bounce, but will be great for batting if the sun is out. "I'm not sure how the Test wicket is going to play, but on a good day, when the wicket's flat, it's a fantastic place to play."

Durban's pace and bounce shouldn't worry the Indians as much as when it gets combined with the seam movement. When the ball moves around at pace, their techniques gets exposed. In Morne Morkel, South Africa have a bowler who can test the Indians with bounce - it was in Durban that Mitchell Johnson broke Graeme Smith's fingers with a snorter - and in Dale Steyn, they have the man who can harass them with pace and movement. So much will come down to how the surface plays. The selection headache revolves around the third seamer: Lonwabo Tsotsobe or Wayne Parnell? In his brief career, Tsotsobe has proven to be a steady operator while Parnell has shown, on occasions, the prowess to bowl fiery spells. Indians, traditionally, have struggled against such left-arm seamers. Will South Africa bite the bullet?

For India, it's another acid test. The batsmen's approach in the second innings of the first Test was successful but by then the pitch had lost its sting. Can they do it when the pitch has some spice in it? So much, yet again, depends on Virender Sehwag if India are to do well in the first innings. He has the skill and the mental tenacity to deal with pace and bounce. Though VVS Laxman didn't sparkle in the first Test, he was at relative ease till his dismissals, but the same can't be said of Suresh Raina. Will the Indians give him one more chance "to surprise himself" or will they draft in Cheteshwar Pujara? Zaheer Khan returns to alleviate their bowling woes and India will hope that Ishant Sharma and Sreesanth have learnt from the mistakes of the first Test.

Form guide

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

Watch out for...

Zaheer Khan v Graeme Smith: In 20 innings, Zaheer has taken out Smith nine times (four each in Tests and ODIs and once in T20s). Zaheer has been always good against left-hand batsmen with his ability to punctuate his incoming deliveries with the one that holds the line or even moves away, and he has been exceptionally good against Smith. Often, Smith has been caught at the crease, either pushing outside the line or stabbing inside it.

Dale Steyn v Rahul Dravid: Dravid's judgement of his off stump's location is no longer what it used to be. Often, he has been pushing at deliveries that he would have not touched in the past. It's not an aggressive move to score runs either: his back leg stays rooted to the leg stump line and the front leg keeps dragging him well outside off. Steyn's pacy away-seamers will tempt Dravid to waft outside off, but will he overcome the instinct to feel for them?

Team news

South Africa have no fitness issues and only have to decide between Tsotsobe and Parnell, with the former likely to retain his spot.

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 / Wayne Parnell

Zaheer is set to replace Jaidev Unadkat for India. It is to be seen whether they retain Raina or bring in Pujara. India will sweat over the fitness of Gautam Gambhir as well, who was hit on the left hand in the first Test and the injury seems to have gotten worse.

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

Stats and trivia

  • Rahul Dravid averages just 33 in Tests in South Africa and has just one hundred from 18 innings. Click here for a comprehensive stats analysis on the teams' performances in Durban.
  • Since Smith took over as captain, South Africa have won only three of the seven Tests played at Kingsmead, two of them against the lowly-ranked West Indies. The third was in 2006 against India and was ten minutes away from being drawn.

Quotes

"We don't consider one Test match more important than the others. By doing that, you can put additional pressure on yourself. We believe in taking care of small things so we respect every Test, and not in taking any extra pressure."
The series may be on the line, but MS Dhoni is taking it as just another game

"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."
South Africa may have dominated the first Test, but Corrie van Zyl believes it going to be a fresh start in Durban

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on December 29, 2010, 12:22 GMT

    m an indian cricket fan from nepal? thiz is the gift of new year of all indian supporter?nd lots of wising to ms dhoni nd his team for next match starting from sunday ?

  • A.Afker on December 26, 2010, 14:09 GMT

    @Sampath Reddy. U said Toss will decide the result isn't it?....If so why they are playing for somany days and why are they wasting of others time,money etc.They do not need to play, toss onwards referee can stop the match and can give (win) that to SA.Further if so then what happen to IND in Ahamedabad,Nagpur etc resently against with same SA.What will be the results then?...Don't talk like a kid,Accept the fact that SA is superior team than IND and appereciate their ability and skills.Instead of giving excuses like No Zaheer,No Gambir,No toss,Wet outfield,Overcast condition etc,etc.However end results will be 2-0 or 3-0 SA's favour.

  • thecheechman on December 26, 2010, 13:03 GMT

    You just have to look at India's record against SA since readmission. It is not a nice sight. The simple fact is that SA has been able to win in Australia, India and England in the last few years. India is a great side but I do sometimes feel it's supporters make too many excuses about the toss or the conditions when they play away from home. India to really be considered the number 1 team in the world like Australia was for so many years, they need to fight through when they lose the toss in conditions that are not going their way. This is the quality that a number 1 side has? The fact is that SA played BETTER cricket than India in the last test. India might have made a good score in the second innings but they still got out before SA had to bat again. So in good batting conditions, SA was still able to get 10 wickets. India managed to only get half the wickets of SA. Why can't India supporters just admit when their team plays badly?

  • on December 26, 2010, 10:44 GMT

    @Kashi... India didnt get the #1 coz of sachin records. Its the hard work of total team. Compare the winning ratio of india in last two years and two years before that. If south africa lost the toss then things would be different. Why didnt they bowled out in second innings of first test under 200 or 250 if they are too good than India and their bowling is the best. You cant blame small things for the loss. Australia whitewashed in last series in india. Being top team and highly ranked bowlers they didnt even managed to draw a single test.

  • willmot on December 26, 2010, 10:21 GMT

    @sweetspot: Yes true, you do have the IPL to look forward to were you can watch Indian teams thrash other Indian teams in the stage managed mickey mouse cricket shows put on by the BCCI to raise revenue.... Hilarious indian excuses,keep them coming please!!!

  • mahjut on December 26, 2010, 8:51 GMT

    yes, catch2020, you are certainly right about SA batsmens' ability -they've done well everywhere recently. you are right too about the pertinence of past and present though it's fun to use the near past to predict the near future ... and you are mostly right about the lateral movement (in which every team struggles to varying degrees) - i was primarily pointing out the contradiction - but i did watch, listen and read the day 1 coverage and there was more talk of 'spitting off a length' than 'prodigious movement' but i do not reject your point - it is valid, the SA bowlers were still getting some bounce out of the pitch on the final day...

  • KiwiSri on December 26, 2010, 8:06 GMT

    If India loss the toss SA will be looking farward to repeat of trend from Centurion test and send in India to bat, to take advantage of similar pitch conditons. And if Gambhir is playing today, my first innings (only) strategy will be Dravid should open the inning with Sewag, that will serve the purpose threefold, while Gambhir should be pushed down the order: 1) The "wall" capable of playing defensively can endure and remain for long time to remove the shine of the ball from the venomous bouncy pitch, as he is also more capable of dealing with shortpitched bouncers than Gambhir. 2) Gambhir can be saved from the hardship of strugging to survive from the shortpitched deliveries of new ball. 3) Dravids defensive play on one end will provide right balance to Sewag's offensive risky shots on the other end.

  • sony_sr on December 26, 2010, 7:49 GMT

    Am an Indian fan. but unfortunately I cannot see anything other than 2 batting collapses from Indian batting order. Its a fact and I accept it.

  • on December 26, 2010, 7:27 GMT

    India should not bother on loosing or wining the toss, all they need to bother is to avoid loosing by an innings.

  • Kashi0127 on December 26, 2010, 7:03 GMT

    India and Indian Supporters at large are always worried about records. Being #1 (thats a laugh!) scoring 50 centuries, personal glories. For gods sake concentrate on winning a game outside your backyard.

  • on December 29, 2010, 12:22 GMT

    m an indian cricket fan from nepal? thiz is the gift of new year of all indian supporter?nd lots of wising to ms dhoni nd his team for next match starting from sunday ?

  • A.Afker on December 26, 2010, 14:09 GMT

    @Sampath Reddy. U said Toss will decide the result isn't it?....If so why they are playing for somany days and why are they wasting of others time,money etc.They do not need to play, toss onwards referee can stop the match and can give (win) that to SA.Further if so then what happen to IND in Ahamedabad,Nagpur etc resently against with same SA.What will be the results then?...Don't talk like a kid,Accept the fact that SA is superior team than IND and appereciate their ability and skills.Instead of giving excuses like No Zaheer,No Gambir,No toss,Wet outfield,Overcast condition etc,etc.However end results will be 2-0 or 3-0 SA's favour.

  • thecheechman on December 26, 2010, 13:03 GMT

    You just have to look at India's record against SA since readmission. It is not a nice sight. The simple fact is that SA has been able to win in Australia, India and England in the last few years. India is a great side but I do sometimes feel it's supporters make too many excuses about the toss or the conditions when they play away from home. India to really be considered the number 1 team in the world like Australia was for so many years, they need to fight through when they lose the toss in conditions that are not going their way. This is the quality that a number 1 side has? The fact is that SA played BETTER cricket than India in the last test. India might have made a good score in the second innings but they still got out before SA had to bat again. So in good batting conditions, SA was still able to get 10 wickets. India managed to only get half the wickets of SA. Why can't India supporters just admit when their team plays badly?

  • on December 26, 2010, 10:44 GMT

    @Kashi... India didnt get the #1 coz of sachin records. Its the hard work of total team. Compare the winning ratio of india in last two years and two years before that. If south africa lost the toss then things would be different. Why didnt they bowled out in second innings of first test under 200 or 250 if they are too good than India and their bowling is the best. You cant blame small things for the loss. Australia whitewashed in last series in india. Being top team and highly ranked bowlers they didnt even managed to draw a single test.

  • willmot on December 26, 2010, 10:21 GMT

    @sweetspot: Yes true, you do have the IPL to look forward to were you can watch Indian teams thrash other Indian teams in the stage managed mickey mouse cricket shows put on by the BCCI to raise revenue.... Hilarious indian excuses,keep them coming please!!!

  • mahjut on December 26, 2010, 8:51 GMT

    yes, catch2020, you are certainly right about SA batsmens' ability -they've done well everywhere recently. you are right too about the pertinence of past and present though it's fun to use the near past to predict the near future ... and you are mostly right about the lateral movement (in which every team struggles to varying degrees) - i was primarily pointing out the contradiction - but i did watch, listen and read the day 1 coverage and there was more talk of 'spitting off a length' than 'prodigious movement' but i do not reject your point - it is valid, the SA bowlers were still getting some bounce out of the pitch on the final day...

  • KiwiSri on December 26, 2010, 8:06 GMT

    If India loss the toss SA will be looking farward to repeat of trend from Centurion test and send in India to bat, to take advantage of similar pitch conditons. And if Gambhir is playing today, my first innings (only) strategy will be Dravid should open the inning with Sewag, that will serve the purpose threefold, while Gambhir should be pushed down the order: 1) The "wall" capable of playing defensively can endure and remain for long time to remove the shine of the ball from the venomous bouncy pitch, as he is also more capable of dealing with shortpitched bouncers than Gambhir. 2) Gambhir can be saved from the hardship of strugging to survive from the shortpitched deliveries of new ball. 3) Dravids defensive play on one end will provide right balance to Sewag's offensive risky shots on the other end.

  • sony_sr on December 26, 2010, 7:49 GMT

    Am an Indian fan. but unfortunately I cannot see anything other than 2 batting collapses from Indian batting order. Its a fact and I accept it.

  • on December 26, 2010, 7:27 GMT

    India should not bother on loosing or wining the toss, all they need to bother is to avoid loosing by an innings.

  • Kashi0127 on December 26, 2010, 7:03 GMT

    India and Indian Supporters at large are always worried about records. Being #1 (thats a laugh!) scoring 50 centuries, personal glories. For gods sake concentrate on winning a game outside your backyard.

  • on December 26, 2010, 6:54 GMT

    Is it raining in Durban now?

  • sweetspot on December 26, 2010, 6:51 GMT

    Winning the toss is important but Dhoni cannot put any effort in this direction. No matter what, if India put on 400+ in the first innings, that should be enough to challenge SA and keep them from winning. Conditions that favour bowlers aren't conditions that ANY batting team enjoys these days. Australia just got bundled out for 98! Too late to talk about selections, but a team that is #1 cannot have too many things wrong. Bottomline for me, no worries if India gets thrashed 0-3, it will still be #1. The WC and the IPL are much bigger events to look forward to.

  • sweetspot on December 26, 2010, 6:41 GMT

    @Willmot - Did India INVENT this d a m n ranking system? So, why're people like you making a fuss out of it. If the #1 rank means so much to you, ONLY when your team gets it, then get a load of India being on top. Eat it. Speaking of India's batting being weak, Australia just got bundled out for 98, in THEIR OWN country. Truth is, no batting line up can really do much against bowling friendly conditions, and bowlers who know how to exploit those conditions. Flat pitches make ALL bowlers look bad, no doubt, except the most exceptional. If SA's bowling is SO good, why did they let India score more than 3 times what they did in their first innings? Isn't it customary for ANY team to score worse in the 2nd innings? So, SA's bowlers are no good, either.

  • k.sanjeet83 on December 26, 2010, 6:33 GMT

    If India have to win then need to blast indian openers and sachin and rahul too... zaheer have to bowl extrimely well..........

  • on December 26, 2010, 6:25 GMT

    what is a pedestrian bowler like Sreesanth doing in the test team - when Munaf Patel is fit?

  • vpk23 on December 26, 2010, 5:54 GMT

    LET LAXMAN SWITCH THE NO 3 POSITION WITH DRAVID;

  • momobhai on December 26, 2010, 5:20 GMT

    Dinesh Bhattacharjee, I think suresh raina is not a experience person to handle the situation in middle order, instead we can go for yuvi which he showed his splended knock against pak by putting partnership with dada,so for yuvi wuld be the best opt to get him to the test team

  • on December 26, 2010, 4:57 GMT

    if India want to win this match they should get a good start.....which should be provided by the openers....then India need good bowling attack.......if India can do that India surely win this test match

  • Catch2020 on December 26, 2010, 4:53 GMT

    @Mahjut -- Centurion didn't actually lose it's bounce through the game; it was the lateral movement on day 1 that did the Indian batsmen in (sadly, that's an old story). However, as far as bounce is concerned, SA do have a huge advantage because their players are tall. Someone like Morne Morkel can get the ball to kick up from good length to the chest of the relatively short Indian batsmen. I can't see Ishant doing that to Smith or Kallis. @Mukesh -- the SA batting is top-notch and you're dreaming if you think otherwise. They are technically very sound against pace and spin and show good judgement and fight. Centurion is done and dusted; we didn't play well and we lost. Learn your lessons and move one. Of greater relevance today -- it's raining in Durban, I can't see any play happening today :(

  • on December 26, 2010, 3:08 GMT

    mahjut..against the swinging, seaming, rearing balls they dont have the skills, except for perhaps Amla...but he has been on such a tear that a few low score dismissals will be mean reverting

  • mahjut on December 26, 2010, 0:14 GMT

    ""... on days two and three. Obviously the pitch flattened out making wicket taking difficult [...] India showed in the second innings that they are more than capable of sound, respectable batting, even on these bouncy wickets, against Morkel/Steyn."" Guy, you are contradicting yourself! they have, so far, showed they are capable of batting in familiar circumstances and not on bouncy wickets (well, not vs Steyn /Morkel anyway)...yet! they will probably get another chance soon enough. and good luck to 'em

  • GeorgeKruz on December 25, 2010, 23:39 GMT

    Adding Sreesant to fast bowling will not help. We need one more fast bowler to replace sreesant. Zaheer, Ishant & Munaff/Irfan/Balaji. India's batting line up is very strong till number 8 ( Bhajji). But Still lacking a fast bowler.I think Sreesanth is not the right choice. India Sreesant & Pakistan's Sami are the same seasonal bowlers. Never been consistent. I think a fast bowlers are born with typical body structure (frame). Ofcourse the height play a very important role, the physique & the action. Well let us keep our fingers cross & wait to see.

  • on December 25, 2010, 22:54 GMT

    Zaheer is the best bowler India has. If he performs then performance of Ishant and Sreesnath goes up. Harbjhan also performs better. Personally, I believe Harbjhan is now an average or below average Spinner. He is concentrating on his batting and sledging. He is one of the best #8 and perhaps amongst the top 3 sledging experts in the world. With the passage of time as his sledging has improved his spinning has gone down. It is strongly correlated. With Zaheer in the team, I reckon India can take 20 Wickets if Luck favors them.

  • on December 25, 2010, 22:39 GMT

    India were unlucky to lose a crucial toss in the first test as the conditions would have made batting difficult for any team. However, they offered fruitless resistance to the S.A. batsmen on days two and three. Obviously the pitch flattened out making wicket taking difficult. But, that being the case, the natural course of action is to stem run flow. Yet, they found themselves conceding runs at close to 5 an over. Every over, unfailingly, there would be at least one bad ball, either a half volley or down legside, that would be converted into a boundary. There was no pressure on the batsmen whatsoever, and thus it took them just over four sessions to amass 600+, losing just four. The long and short - India lost because they bowled badly. Hopefully, with the return of Zaheer Khan, they will improve on that in this test. India showed in the second innings that they are more than capable of sound, respectable batting, even on these bouncy wickets, against Morkel/Steyn.

  • GeorgeKruz on December 25, 2010, 22:16 GMT

    To win India, it need to strengthen its bowling, We need a fast bowling with swinging abilty, Irfan & Munaff can do it. Giving chance to Irfan is also adding strength to the batting line up too.I still doubt that Zaheer could carry on to both innings of the tests. He is just being pushed in as India dont have any choice. Fast bowling swingers in Indian team: Zaheer, Ishant, Munaf & Irfan.

  • mahjut on December 25, 2010, 21:54 GMT

    ABP235 Tsotsobe has been performing very well in domestic cricket for at least two years. He provides the good left arm variation SA were clearly looking for and with Parnell out of the game for ages he was the best thing SA have got. Give the guy a chance - he did very well in the ODIs against PK (who Steyn and Morkel could not get out twice in 5 days) and deserves a chance. I haven't made up my mind about him yet but think about Hashim 'walking wicket' Amla at the start of his career. Pommie Mbangwa made a good observation in the last game and that was: "where is his attitude, no posturing [sic] like when he was taking wickets in the UAE? " maybe there are others in the changing room who think like you, how much disharmony would that bring? I hope Smith gives him support and encouragement and he starts taking a few wickets... Obviously, if he doesn't in the next test and doesn't show signs that he will then, sure, drop him and bring back...i guess parnell

  • on December 25, 2010, 21:07 GMT

    I am not a pessimist and I believe our team (India) has potential and talent to bouce back in the series.I think in first test it was just one bad session (1st morning) which has the result on SA team's side.Our team needs our back up and i am with them. After all "They are not as bad as they made look when they loose and they are not good as they are made to look when they win".

  • Trickstar on December 25, 2010, 21:05 GMT

    SA to smash India again, India will soon find their rightful place in the ICC rankings and that is 4 or 5. Has there ever been a more overrated side in the history of world cricket, no.

  • mahjut on December 25, 2010, 20:37 GMT

    Mukesh. I think you're being a little harsh calling SA batting flimsy. Smith, Amla and AB all average 50 or there abouts, Kallis more mid-50s. Apart from the 100 in the return innings vs Oz in SA last home series Prince has looked out of sorts but he was averaging very well till he got injured in Oz and Peterson is still a new test player by comparison but has shown some temperament (as has prince - in trying times). Bouch will alway get you a few and all the bowlers think they can bat (not sure about Tsotsobe - and Harris despite opening occasionally in other forms of cricket looks a solid #10/11 batsman to me) but flimsy...I don't think so.

  • tsd2783 on December 25, 2010, 20:37 GMT

    dravid will change his overall ave. in this test match looking forward to it

  • willmot on December 25, 2010, 20:30 GMT

    Tendulkar may score runs and Zaheer take a few wickets but barring some miracle everyone knows that SA are likely to hammer India...AGAIN. This obviously makes their no.1 ranking a joke and proves that India have only got there due to the financial clout of the BCCI being able to arrange matches at convenient moments to prop up the Indian team.

  • Rahulbose on December 25, 2010, 20:09 GMT

    Best idea for Indian win, Dhoni & Co should sneak into the stadium and use some grass cutters.

  • cricket_for_all on December 25, 2010, 19:59 GMT

    Even though I personally like India to win this match but It is definitely in SA's favor. Batting wise both teams are equally matching. Bowling and fielding wise SA is so much in front of India. Zahir can help but He can't win the matches himself alone like greats McGrath, Wasim, Wakar or current Malinka (These guys can clean up last 3 or 4 wickets in two overs).

  • on December 25, 2010, 19:33 GMT

    Funny how always cricinfo staff put dravid in the spot light!!

  • on December 25, 2010, 19:24 GMT

    Oz on the decline, SA just about starting to believe that they can be more than one of the top sides. If one wants to be No 1, conditions have to be tamed. The SAffers have tamed them more than once in India. So have the Aussies. Welcome to the the high table, Dhoni & Co! Eat what you get,else you are welcome to leave! Don't like grass? Cricket's not for you. Play tennis, (less the grasscourt season). Come on, boys, show them that you deserve to be there and are not just there by default. I am Team India's biggest fan! RAH, RAH. RAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • on December 25, 2010, 19:23 GMT

    well all depends on toss team batting first have the privelede to bowl in seaming conditions i think india haven't found a bowling partner who can help zaheer and took some pressure off from him in batting i think raina needs to check his technique with short pitched bowls he was looking vulnerable with short balls i think it's the time to bring pujara and test this lad or we can even give chance to yuvi also if he was there in the team...

  • Rohan0309 on December 25, 2010, 19:05 GMT

    I think Raina will be given another chance, especially if Gauti stays out. And he SHOULD be given a chance. He wasn't the only batsman to fail at Centurion!

  • sudhindranath on December 25, 2010, 18:36 GMT

    I think too many hopes are being pinned on Pujara. I think that even if he is in the team, it wouldn't make much of a difference. India's bowling problems are well-known but even their batsmen are not up to it when playing on tracks which give some assistance to the fast bowlers.

    To put even 250-300 on the board, one needs 3 or 4 batsmen to play well enough to get 40-50 runs each. And as the first innings of the 1st Test showed, India doesn't have many batsmen who can manage to score those runs on fast pitches with good bounce and movement.

  • SurlyCynic on December 25, 2010, 18:21 GMT

    Think this'll be a good game, looking forward to it. All the best to both teams... and the Kingsmead green mamba.

  • Abhimanyu on December 25, 2010, 18:09 GMT

    @ABP235, you are absolutely correct my friend. Everyone knows but nobody wants to say it, Indian will lose again, big time!! Not because they don't have talented players to beat South Africa in their home , but because of the poor selection again n again. I wonder when will we get a selection committee and team management, who will pick players on their merit and not on their popularity. Abhimanyu Mithun and Parveen Kumar should have been playing instead of Ishant and Sreesanth and P. Chawala instead of Harbhajan, who has lost his doorsa. And finally Pujara, who is a far better batsmen then Rania is still waiting for his permanent place in both Test and ODI team.

  • Rolling_in_The_Deep on December 25, 2010, 18:07 GMT

    Pujara is a way better batsman than Raina.. He should Play.. Thats the only chink in India's Armour.. Looking forward to Zak vs Smith.

  • wiseshah on December 25, 2010, 17:47 GMT

    india is totally a over rated team, hope they can win without help of rain and opponents injury

  • JustOUT on December 25, 2010, 17:20 GMT

    Biff, the hero is back for India. So be careful. He will break your fingers with his speed n looks. May be its time for you to show your heroism as you did in Edbagston n Perth 2008. If he is the only reason for India's lost in Centurion, then i really pity them. Sachin will again score a century, hence India will lose 2-0. haha.

  • on December 25, 2010, 17:19 GMT

    THIS IS GREAT PLANNING FROM BCCI TO SCHEDULE MATCHES ON THE QUICK PITCHES IN SOUTH AFRICA BEFORE THE WORLD CUP IN INDIA, SRI LANKA, AND BANGLADESH. IT WOULD HAVE MADE TOO MUCH SENSE TO HAVE THE MATCHES ON SLOW PITCHES SINCE THE WORLD CUP IS GOING TO BE PLAYED ON THEM. I CAN SEE THE BCCI STRETEGY; LOWER CONFIDENCE INDIAN TEAM COMING OFF A BEATING FROM SOUTH AFRICA WILL HAVE A BETTER CHANCE OF WINNING THE WORLD CUP THAN A INDIAN TEAM FULL OF CONFIDENCE COMING OF A WIN IN A HOME SERIES.

  • JustOUT on December 25, 2010, 17:15 GMT

    C'mon SA. Make it 2-0. Do it for Amla.

  • on December 25, 2010, 16:52 GMT

    If SA bats first expect a score below 150 if the wicket aids Zaheer & Co. SA batting is flimsy.

  • diehard-5 on December 25, 2010, 16:47 GMT

    @Chekka Cricket lover - Yeah. You have a point........... By the way, you have a funny ID :-D

  • on December 25, 2010, 16:44 GMT

    Yet again, Indian card looks strong in papers and web but too weak when they step into the ground...

  • Devd007 on December 25, 2010, 16:14 GMT

    SA have been always famous for one thing - They are CHOKERS. Cant handle pressure. That's why they are always the most talented bunch of LOSERS. India has to pile on the runs, and put on the pressure on SA. Then sit back, enjoy and watch them CRUMBLE, even with our idiotic bowling attack.

  • Tim40621 on December 25, 2010, 15:36 GMT

    The toss will be massive if India can get SA in on a greenish top with Zaheer back this could really be interesting. But if Steyn and Morkel get first use i worry that we could have more of the same. This being 1 vs 2 in the world i really want a tight battle. One thing on SA's bowling Tsotsobe needs a good game he doesnt look a test bowler at all. Im a fan of Wayne Parnell id be getting him in there, a left-armer who can swing it at pace and can bat should be a pick most times.

  • A.Afker on December 25, 2010, 15:17 GMT

    @sunil_just_loves_test_cricket. As per u if not that Raina's 7 overs IND could have won isn't it?....How can they win even if they can not avoid the Innigs defeat. If this is batting track (except 1st day),why IND can not bowled SA out even in a single inninngs (at least half of the side).Don't give childist excuses saying Toss,Zaheer,Rain,etc etc.Accept the defeat like a gentle man. SA won 3 matches in IND by an innings (Nagpur,Bangalore etc) whereas IND never win any test by an innings.And so far won only a single match (against SA in SA) for entire 78 years of Indian Test history.Even PAK managed to win 2 matches in SA LOL.

  • on December 25, 2010, 15:10 GMT

    Best wishes and good luck to Team India for the game. Win the match and proove that we are number 1.

  • on December 25, 2010, 15:10 GMT

    To be honest, India has the arsenal to win this game and that too Handsomely provided they play to their potential.

    People are following this series with great interest in India. This team should at least win this Game and draw the next one.

    Come on Dhoni! Win the toss, ball first and put SA out of this Game

  • Highflyer_GP on December 25, 2010, 15:09 GMT

    @sunil_just_loves_test_cricket: for someone who seems so intent on slagging off SA's pace attack as overrated, you seem to forget that SA at least bowled India out in the second innings, where batting conditions were the same as SA's innings. Yet India could only take 4 South African wickets, while conceding ~200 runs more. I wonder what you'll be blaming after this match.

  • on December 25, 2010, 14:46 GMT

    Sriram has penned another of a series of baised articles against Indians since this series started. The gift of winning the toss and bowling in favorable conditions helped SA skittle out India in the first innings of the first test. If SA bats first in Durban and the conditions are fav to Zaheer and Co., expect the Afrikans to be bowled out on the first day. And if the sun shines when India is batting, Morkel and Styne will be toothless against the finest batting side in the world today. Let's go Dhoni, win the toss.

  • Nampally on December 25, 2010, 14:26 GMT

    Yes, conditions and toss are again key factors. India cannot afford to start off in the same manner as at Centurian. Dhoni has to win the toss and make the right decision to start with. Indian batting has to show up from Sehwag to the last man because India is #1 team because of its batting. Every batsman has to stay at the crease and get runs. As you say, Sehwag is the key to the Indian batting. He needs to stay there for 2 sessions to blunt Steyn, Morkel, Parnell & Kallis.Indian . Ishant & Sree are having a free ride as passengers and must perform. If they fail they probably would have lost their spots for future. Zaheer needs to tread carefully as he is still not 100% fit from his muscle injury.Harbhajan appears to have gone over the Hill. I hope he proves me wrong with few wkts. But I think it is time to replace him with Ashwin.It will not be easy for India to win but hope I am wrong. India need to bat, bowl and field at least 2 notches above the first test to win.Can they do it?

  • on December 25, 2010, 14:22 GMT

    Wish all the best to my fav SouthAfrica teams. They will win this match also like first one. Kallis, Amla, AB de V, A. Morkel, Dale Stayne just do ur job. We all want to see you #1 position again. Only SA deserve that position.

  • ravi_hari on December 25, 2010, 13:10 GMT

    Testing time for both the teams. South Africa's recent record and India's over all record stand against them. It is anybody's game. However, looking at the way Indian batsmen fared in the first test, the odds are slightly in favour of South Africa. India has always won tests if its batsman played well. It is important to put up a good score and put pressure on South African batsmen with pace and spin. If India bats first and puts up a total of 350+ psychologically they will have an edge. Alternately, if South AFrica have even 300+ they will have a clear edge owing to a strong pace attack. It is important for both the teams that their openers give a good start. This will allow them to ward of the pace challenge and it would help the middle order to settle down. So, Smith& Sehwag will have to do a lot of work and play as long as possible. Bhajji might be crucial in case INdia is bowling on day 4/5. A fascinating test in the offing. Sit back and enjoy for 5 days. Hari Ravi

  • mahjut on December 25, 2010, 13:06 GMT

    WSell, I guess I can ony agree with virgil - there is no question about India's batting ability but they just don't look like taking 20 wickets...they don't! and if we look only at form in SA then we have to say the batting hasn't been particularly good ... the first innings last test was on a testing wicket - not much more that i could see - and it is unlikely they'll get such a dead track as the last 4 days again in SA (I could be wrong about that i suppose). Now, as I said, they are good bats so they improved second innings - pitch or not!? well see...

  • on December 25, 2010, 13:04 GMT

    pls bring in pujara in place of raina.......its gud fr batting order

  • ABP235 on December 25, 2010, 12:57 GMT

    They have guys who should be in tests, playing ODIs (e.g. Nehra) and those who should be in ODIs playings tests (e.g.Raina); guys who should be played in SA, Aussie conditions play in SL, India conditions (e.g.Mithun), bowlers without fitness (Zaheer, Ishant) playing test cricket instead of fit guys like Mithun, Praveen. there is no match guys, India is too far away when it comes to bowling. At best India may bowl SA all out once in a test, whereas Indian batting lineup, as strong as it may appear due to the past performance and records, are too far away from not giving wickets to Steyn & Morkell Company. India should thank that SA reservation policy (keeping Tsotsobe in place of Ntini) is helping in not having a tough & strong third fast bowler now! India is missing match winning fast bowlers and they have a spinner who still appears to be living in his early 2000 greatness and captain and selectors seem to be happy with what he is doing - more with the mouth than with the ball.

  • on December 25, 2010, 12:57 GMT

    India gonna show why they are no. 1 .... they will draw d series 1-1 at 3rd test d 2nd test will b surely a draw

  • KENNETH2007 on December 25, 2010, 12:46 GMT

    WHY DOES NO ONE WANT TO BRING IN VIRAT ???

  • Santhoshraghavan on December 25, 2010, 12:07 GMT

    Unless Indians learn how to defend pace attack of steyn and morkel, and learn how to attack them wit the same pace the words Draw and Victory are to far away

  • sunil_just_loves_test_cricket on December 25, 2010, 10:34 GMT

    @Virgil Slade whar r u saying dude SA would have beated INDIA any how in 1st Test even if their was no rain??? God help you. Only thing I have to say in reply ....The "FIERY" STEYN AND MORKEL WAS UNABLE TO GET OUT INDIA IN SECOND INNINGS CHEAPLY SAY ON SOMETHING 300 odd. It was a defeat as per their so "hyped" standards I think. It took 100+ overs and 450 runs to get INDIA out in second innings under tremendous pressure. If SA has the guts they would have declared on 350 if they have believe in their bowling but they didnt and our super cool captain Dhoni helped them out by giving raina to bowl 7 overs in which AB scored century LOL when he tried the same with Sharma got out next bowl great. After those 7 overs SA was in position to declare well before tea otherwise result would be different. Lets see how second test plays....One thing more INDIA batted after rain and 4 day detoriting pitch whereas SA batted on day 2 and 3 most favorable days 4 batting in any condition in a test match.

  • on December 25, 2010, 10:23 GMT

    well i think pujara should play in this match........raina has failed on the bouncy pitches in south africa.........he has to get some confidence before the world cup.........and yes harbhajan has to bowl well..........he has benn off colour in the recent past.......ashwin is far better than him.........n if harbhajan continues his dismal run.........ashwin should b given d 1st priority as a spinner in d world cup........

  • passionatefan2010 on December 25, 2010, 10:22 GMT

    Suresh Raina needs to take his cricket more seriously. Bouncy wickets, and not the flat tracks in IPL are his real test. He should focus on ironing out his flaws first.

  • on December 25, 2010, 9:55 GMT

    Zaheer Khan has not and never will be the difference between the sides in SA conditions. I say this not because he is a bad bowler but bowling, like batting, is about partnerships. There i nothing about Centurion that leads to believe that he will get the sufficient support that will allow India to capture 20 wickets. At best, India can go home with a 1-0 defeat.

    If conditions offer anything to the seam bowlers then that margin of defeat will be stretched. The reality is that even though many pro-India commentators blame the first test defeat on the toss, SA would have bowled India out for less than 400 had they batted second and would have set them a target in excess of 400 if Smith CHOSE to declare.

    Bottom line, its like a popgun trying to compete with Uzi when you compare the two attacks in SA conditions and ZAK is simply not enough of an equalizer!

  • aji09 on December 25, 2010, 9:54 GMT

    What ever i have seen of Cheteshwar pujara in the one test, he has a great future. The selectors should persist with him for more time. They should not treat him as they did with Mithun.

  • Cheeka_CricketLover on December 25, 2010, 9:46 GMT

    I pity for Raina. He is struggling now. I feel India has to give a break to him from Test Cricket and allow him to prepare the ODI's to come. Also Vijay should be preferred ahead of pujara who is jus one test old. Vijay has been in the Indian Test Team for long enuf to deserve a chance ahead of Pujara. He should bat at No 3/6 and should be groomed to replace Dravid/Laxman. A player of such quality should not be sacrified in the name sake of batting position.

  • cricketclubber on December 25, 2010, 9:31 GMT

    Draw......... India may look like dominating some sessions.

  • pmalay on December 25, 2010, 9:14 GMT

    There seems to be lot of focus on Zaheer being back. I think Indian team should just focus on what they did wrong in Centurion. At the end of the day, it was a match that could have been saved.

  • on December 25, 2010, 9:09 GMT

    win the toss and win the match -this proverb is for india.

  • msrinivasan1995 on December 25, 2010, 9:07 GMT

    surely toss is x factor. it should be in indias favour.

  • on December 25, 2010, 9:04 GMT

    Bounce seam movement r two way sword if SA bats first under overcast condition then they will realised what they r upto..... Ishant can tdo to SA what Morkel did to India in Centuron

  • Greenmale on December 25, 2010, 8:49 GMT

    Suresh Raina is completely off-colour. His absence from the test team will do good to the team and for himself. So that, he can have some time to be prepared for the ODIs. Because, his presence in the world cup is important. It is better to give him a break AT THE MOMENT.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Greenmale on December 25, 2010, 8:49 GMT

    Suresh Raina is completely off-colour. His absence from the test team will do good to the team and for himself. So that, he can have some time to be prepared for the ODIs. Because, his presence in the world cup is important. It is better to give him a break AT THE MOMENT.

  • on December 25, 2010, 9:04 GMT

    Bounce seam movement r two way sword if SA bats first under overcast condition then they will realised what they r upto..... Ishant can tdo to SA what Morkel did to India in Centuron

  • msrinivasan1995 on December 25, 2010, 9:07 GMT

    surely toss is x factor. it should be in indias favour.

  • on December 25, 2010, 9:09 GMT

    win the toss and win the match -this proverb is for india.

  • pmalay on December 25, 2010, 9:14 GMT

    There seems to be lot of focus on Zaheer being back. I think Indian team should just focus on what they did wrong in Centurion. At the end of the day, it was a match that could have been saved.

  • cricketclubber on December 25, 2010, 9:31 GMT

    Draw......... India may look like dominating some sessions.

  • Cheeka_CricketLover on December 25, 2010, 9:46 GMT

    I pity for Raina. He is struggling now. I feel India has to give a break to him from Test Cricket and allow him to prepare the ODI's to come. Also Vijay should be preferred ahead of pujara who is jus one test old. Vijay has been in the Indian Test Team for long enuf to deserve a chance ahead of Pujara. He should bat at No 3/6 and should be groomed to replace Dravid/Laxman. A player of such quality should not be sacrified in the name sake of batting position.

  • aji09 on December 25, 2010, 9:54 GMT

    What ever i have seen of Cheteshwar pujara in the one test, he has a great future. The selectors should persist with him for more time. They should not treat him as they did with Mithun.

  • on December 25, 2010, 9:55 GMT

    Zaheer Khan has not and never will be the difference between the sides in SA conditions. I say this not because he is a bad bowler but bowling, like batting, is about partnerships. There i nothing about Centurion that leads to believe that he will get the sufficient support that will allow India to capture 20 wickets. At best, India can go home with a 1-0 defeat.

    If conditions offer anything to the seam bowlers then that margin of defeat will be stretched. The reality is that even though many pro-India commentators blame the first test defeat on the toss, SA would have bowled India out for less than 400 had they batted second and would have set them a target in excess of 400 if Smith CHOSE to declare.

    Bottom line, its like a popgun trying to compete with Uzi when you compare the two attacks in SA conditions and ZAK is simply not enough of an equalizer!

  • passionatefan2010 on December 25, 2010, 10:22 GMT

    Suresh Raina needs to take his cricket more seriously. Bouncy wickets, and not the flat tracks in IPL are his real test. He should focus on ironing out his flaws first.