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The Preview by Firdose Moonda
January 8, 2011
January 9, Durban
Start time 14:30 (12.30 GMT, 18.00 IST)
The Big Picture
The cricket is going to be a sideshow to the festivities. It's Makhaya Ntini's farewell match, which is enough to charge the occasion with emotion. Sachin Tendulkar is going to be honoured for continued contribution to the progress of cricket. The match also forms part of the commemoration of 150 years of Indians in South Africa and tribute will also be paid to the South African team who toured India in 1991. All that will end with a Bollywood extravaganza.
It's a magical stage for such an occasion. The Moses Mabhida Stadium, best recognised by its arch, has been talked up as one of the most beautiful venues built for the Football World Cup. It's doesn't have the dimensions of an international cricket field and the straight boundaries are particularly short, which means boundary hitting may be the order of the day.
The pitch, which was laid the day after the World Cup semi-final on 7 July between Spain and Germany, may not be singing the same tune. It's rumoured to sustain only knee-high bounce and is quite slow. During a practice match in mid-December, players said they found cutters to be effective but not the short ball.
The match has been sold out with over 50,000 fans expected to pack into the stadium. It will be the biggest attendance for a cricket match on the African continent.
Form guide(most recent first)
Watch out for...It's only the third Twenty20 Hashim Amla is playing. The first two were in 2009 and he has since injected a lot of pace into his game. His one-day international strike rate is up to 93.38 and he had a string of powerful performances recently against Pakistan in UAE.
Makhaya Ntini has his last chance to impress in international cricket. His is not a veteran in this format, having played just nine internationals. Even if he doesn't pick up a single wicket in the match, the emotion that will flow from each ball he bowls and every move he makes is going to be electric.
Suresh Raina looked like a deer caught in the headlights during the Centurion Test. The floodlights will be on for this game, and this is the format where he feels much more comfortable. He has more than a point to prove, and could not have asked for a bigger stage.
Graeme Smith has been ruled out of the match because of bruising to his hand caused by a hit from Sreesanth in the Cape Town Test. Morne van Wyk, from the Knights franchise, takes his place. With the wicket calling for at least two spinners, Robin Petersen is certain to play with one of the quicks due to miss out. Lonwabo Tsotsobe is the likely candidate.
South Africa (possible): Hashim Amla, Morne van Wyk, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Colin Ingram, David Miller, Johan Botha (capt), Robin Petersen, Rusty Theron, Wayne Parnell, Makhaya Ntini
Sachin Tendulkar is likely to be rested. India are also looking to give Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh and Sreesanth a well-deserved break. In the absence of the regular openers, Rohit Sharma could open along with M Vijay.
India (possible): Rohit Sharma, M Vijay, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Yusuf Pathan, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (capt), R Ashwin, Praveen Kumar, Ashish Nehra, Pragyan Ojha/Munaf Patel
Stats and trivia
"It will be an emotional game. It would be an emotional moment for anybody. Finishing and saying goodbye to something that you love….that will make it a special day."
Makhaya Ntini prepares South Africa for tears in his final match
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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