South Africa v India, 3rd Test, Cape Town December 31, 2010

Newlands track likely to favour batsmen, says curator

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The third Test between South Africa and India will be played "on a good pitch that will last five days," Evan Flint, the Newlands groundsman, told ESPNcricinfo. With the series level at one-all, the Cape Town Test, beginning on January 2, will be the decider in the three-match series.

Newlands traditionally boasts a flat wicket that is batsman-friendly. It has the highest average score, 338.2, for any ground in the country that has hosted more than one Test. That's close to 24 runs greater than the average score at next-highest run-scoring ground in South Africa, Kingsmead in Durban. Flint said the trend is set to continue. "The pitch won't change too much from previous years." It will come as welcome news to the batsmen from both camps, who have had a tough time adjusting to the conditions in the previous two Tests.

Both the Centurion and Durban tracks were lively surfaces that favoured the bowlers initially. The track at SuperSport Park flattened as the sun came out and became excellent for batting. The surface at Kingsmead also became better for batting as the match wore on but there was something in it for the bowlers throughout. The conditions in Newlands will be vastly different.

"I would love to get the same bounce as grounds like SuperSport Park and the Wanderers," Flint said. "The type of bounce we get is different; it's more of a tennis-ball bounce." Flint said his ground offered more of a traditional South African Test-match wicket that was good for batting, particularly on days two and three and turned in favour of the spinners on days four and five.

Flint recognised that South Africa generally "want to get pace and bounce" out of their pitches at home and said he was aware of the home team's desire to exploit their own conditions. "I would like to create a surface that South Africa can get a good result on, but I've just got to do the best I can, and hopefully South Africa can play to their strengths."

There is still a bit of work to do on the surface because the weather has not, up to now, assisted Flint as much as he hoped it would. "It's still not 100%, which is a little bit disappointing. It's been very windy and quite cloudy; a bit cooler than usual, but we still need another really good day of sun." Some showers are forecast for New Year's Day but sunshine is expected to dominate the Test.

Newlands is a fortress for South Africa, where they have won 14 out of 21 Tests since readmission and lost just three, all against Australia. South Africa have beaten India twice in Cape Town, most recently in 2007. On that occasion, the match was also a series decider and South Africa's victory allowed them to clinch the series 2-1.

The one difference between the 2007 match and this one is that three years ago, South Africa went into the game having won the Boxing Day Test after losing the first Test. This season, the opposite has happened. South Africa are under pressure to bounce back after the defeat in Durban, while India are coming off a confidence-boosting win. The stage is set for a grand finale and, fittingly, the first day of the Test match is sold out.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Magnum_Octopus on January 2, 2011, 7:01 GMT

    @Nadeem - I don't think you need to worry about the curator making a "bore draw" pitch - Newlands since 1992 has had 21 tests with 17 results, only 4 drawn tests, yet it has almost always been a good batting pitch

  • AMBH on January 2, 2011, 6:53 GMT

    @donndaman hey poor boy.. SA played away series ya but hahahaha drawn all except a win against WI(no.7 in ranking).. and in ODIs even more pity won against PAK WI ZIM very big teams keep it up.. poor fellow first win a major ICC title SA.. atleast t20 WC....lol..;) i feel really for ur team... keep it up..;) ur team yet to prove to Cricket World whether u can play at international level.. and really can hold pressure when needed most..!.. becoz all other teams hav major titles to there names.... keep trying man,,,..lol;)

  • Nadeem1976 on January 2, 2011, 5:46 GMT

    Oh come on crutor, why are you making this historical thrilling test series a boaring one in last match. Spice up the series, it should have a result either india wins or sa wins. We all want to see result in this match, its like final of test championship. Dont create flat pitch please. Come on. It will be unfair to see a drawn test , especialy this one. Draw test will make test cricket more boaring. Need results.

  • Flat_Track_bullies on January 2, 2011, 5:03 GMT

    I have a feeling its goin to be a draw - OR having followed India all my life - they're goin to disappoint - like they do in finals and key matches..

  • dummy4fb on January 1, 2011, 18:49 GMT

    Hey guys lets jst sit back and enjoy the cricket, lets hope there is no rain and a good surface to play on, moreover, i wish there was a UDRS in place for a fair game.

  • adamgilly on January 1, 2011, 17:50 GMT

    sorry to see indian fans now fighting for SRT VS VVS greatness.... both are great in themselves.... @Magnum_Octopus: well said mate, instead of useless criticising, lets just sit back and enjoy the game... please dont post any derogatory comments about any of the players/country... looking forward to 2-6 and 3-7...

  • donndaman on January 1, 2011, 17:38 GMT

    @ vijaykankanala. U are quite the statistitian. Of all those 11 games that South Africa has played, how many games was @ home???. The answer is 3 my friend. Question how many of the 14 games India has played, was @ home?????. 7 my friend. Has india won any away series against a good opponent in 2010????. No.South Africa is definately the better team. There is no denying. that.

  • rohanblue on January 1, 2011, 17:35 GMT

    why the hell time running so slow??????????? cnt wait fr it to start...

  • SnowSnake on January 1, 2011, 17:15 GMT

    @The_Professor: calling Don Bradman better than SRT is as ridiculous as calling SRT better than Don. Unless Don played 175 tests and maintained an average of over 99, these two cannot be compared. Circumstances including types of bats, pitches, number of teams playing test cricket, time gap between tests, rest days within a test match, timeless tests, lack of neutral umpires, lack of 3rd umpires for checking run outs, frequency with which a player played cricket, number of venues, number of teams playing cricket (leading to different number of bowlers to face), different formats of the game etc. are so different that these comparisons do not make sense. Don has unassilable average and Sachin will probably have unassilable total number of tests+ODI centuries & much more.

  • sudhs_107 on January 1, 2011, 16:29 GMT

    @cricketfan1 and Wangde -- I watched the hawk eye of that wicket many times because you had mentioned. And I don't think it was going to hit stumps!! There was some inward movement but, trajectory shown in hawk eye seems to be correct. Surely, the system would have built based on lot of mathematical formulas and calculations. There can be slight variations in the trajectory from the actual as no system can be complete foolproof. But, don't think it will be huge problem in the system.

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