India in South Africa 2013-14 December 15, 2013

Smith braces for another Zaheer tussle

The South Africa captain has had his troubles against Zaheer - and other left-arm quicks - and his attempts to sort them out will be tested in the India series
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Zaheer Khan may think, albeit somewhat cheekily, that he only needs to turn up to get Graeme Smith out and he would be surprised to learn the South African captain will probably be brushing off the brashness as nothing too serious.

"I can tell you now, Graeme doesn't think about Zaheer Khan at all," Jimmy Cook, Smith's former coach and long-time mentor, told ESPNcricinfo. "Mentally, he is one of the strongest cricketers I've ever worked with so he won't be bothered by what Zaheer said. And when he faces him, he won't think 'that's Zaheer Khan I am up against, I should be worried." He'll think 'Zaheer Khan, you're going to have a tough day because you're bowling to Graeme Smith.'"

This kind of playful trash talk is usually reserved for the boxing ring, not least because when it emerges in cricket, there's every chance it will earn the utterer a fine. As a result, press engagements can lapse into the predictable and it takes experienced and confident campaigners, like Zaheer, to spice them up.

The leader of India's attack will be the involved in what could turn out to the battle of the series. Between Zaheer and Smith - opening bowler to opening batsman, both of whom have returned from injuries looking leaner, fitter and stronger than before - the tone will be set. Zaheer knows that if India are to make South Africa dance to their tune in the two Tests, he will have to be the man to compose the first notes by making his advantage over Smith count for something.

Cook believes Zaheer won't be able to get that right this time, despite the numbers. Only Chris Martin has dismissed Smith more times in Test cricket than Zaheer - eight compared to six - and Martin has played two more Tests against South Africa. James Anderson has also accounted for Smith six times but that came in 17 Tests.

Of all bowlers currently playing, Zaheer is the one with the most success against Smith, underlined by when he gets him out as well as how. All but one of his dismissals - Cape Town 2007 - have come in the opening spell of the first innings which has meant Zaheer has often struck early blows against South Africa.

Using the left-armers angle, Zaheer has troubled Smith by moving the ball away from him for a period of time and then bringing one back into him. He discovered Smith's soft spot in the 2006 Boxing Day Test, although he only used it years later. That time, Zaheer's first three deliveries went away from Smith and the fourth moved in. Smith was squared up and Zaheer induced the outside edge which saw the ball squirt past cover. Zaheer seemed to remember that for a later date.

In the third over of that innings, Smith fetched a short wide ball outside the offstump, tried to pull and top-edged. In the next match of the series, the New Years' Test in Cape Town, Smith had the better of the Indian attack. He scored 94 in the first innings and 55 in the second before Zaheer got one to shape away late and Smith's prod handed the wicket-keeper a catch.

It was only in 2010 that Zaheer began asserting himself over Smith, using what he saw four years earlier. He accounted for Smith in the first innings in both Nagpur and Kolkata. Both times, the ball came into Smith and seemed to catch him unawares. He didn't move his feet enough, looked to play down the leg side but misjudged and was bowled.

"Graeme was playing the ball too early. When he did that, he would close the face of the bat and leave a gap between bat and pad. That's why he could get out," Cook explained. The dismissals above illustrate that perfectly. Both times, the ball snuck through the space Smith had left to clatter into his stumps.

It appeared Smith had a problem facing left-handed bowlers, with Mitchell Johnson also enjoying success against him in the same way. Johnson has dismissed Smith five times in eight matches and broken his hand twice. Johnson has also foxed Smith by first swinging the ball away from him and then bringing it back in. Even right-arm bowlers could exploit that angle, creating a similar one by bowling from around the wicket. That was one of the reasons for Martin's success against him.

By the time the teams met again in the 2010-11 summer, Smith had worked enough with Cook to have closed the gap. But it didn't entirely solve the problem.

In Durban, he reacted quickly enough to the one that came into him by bringing the bat across the pad but got an outside edge off Zaheer in the fifth over. In Cape Town, the first delivery Zaheer got to move into Smith, at the start of his fourth over, was met with a perfect defensive push. The next one moved away and Smith could leave alone but the third one caught the South African captain in two minds. Without being sure if the ball was moving away or in, he left the same gap to be struck on the pad and was out lbw.

Since then, Smith has been similarly troubled by Junaid Khan - who he tried to counter by moving across his offstump but was found out when the Pakistan left-armer bowled one down the leg side in the ODI series in March - and Mitchell McClenaghan, but not seriously so.

Perhaps the best indication that Smith has overcome his problem was seen in the double-hundred he scored in Dubai this October. Against a Pakistan attack led by two left-armers in Junaid and Mohammad Irfan, Smith was confident and collected a surprising number of runs straight down the ground in addition to his favoured leg-side area.

That's why Cook believes Zaheer will not be able to have the same effect on Smith in the upcoming series. "He has sorted out that issue. He has done a lot of work on picking which shots he is good at playing and which deliveries he can target while also understanding which shots he is not so good at and what to do," Cook said. "There's no chance Zaheer will be able to do the same thing this time."

So far, Smith has not had the opportunity to add his voice to the chorus surrounding what will be one of the most closely observed subplots of the series. After being released from the one-day squad Smith busied himself with organising a sixes tournament for charity.

He would have given equal, if not more, attention to Test match preparation, which was cited as the official reason he was sent home from the fifty-over squad. Smith may not admit it publicly but Zaheer, and how to overcome him, would surely have been on his mind then.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • bowledout67 on December 17, 2013, 12:25 GMT

    if India bat first and manage to survive the opening spells of Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn, then India may reach a sizable total. If not, then we may be in for a situation where South Africa lead by 300 come close of play on day 1.

  • Dabak on December 17, 2013, 7:55 GMT

    @ Mayan820 :- Truly from your comments exposes your balanced personality and your knowledge of the WORD, "... Don't be arrogant; it always comes before a fall! IT IS WRITTEN!" ,, GREAT - appreciate it :) and Thank for not writing the Indian team off,, Kudos !!

    To the rest :- Well well well, I'm a hardcore cricket (INDIAN) fan myself but to be honest - it is going to be a TOUGH series and I seriously feel we're under-cooked. We've got a very young crop of batsmen and if lose 0-2, we'll take it !! What matters is we show resilience and put up a fight.. We're up against the BEST QUICKS in the World (arguably) and the BEST TEST TEAM today is SOUTH AFRICA - they've earned it and deservedly they've reached the Top spot. The BCCI should've been more serious in this series and prepared our men knowing we're going to face the BEST TEST team in the world, and not turning up for a Zimbabwe tour (with due respect to Zimbabweans). About ZAK vs BIFF - no comments there are 20 other players involved

  • on December 17, 2013, 7:26 GMT

    I don't see De-kock in the test squad. Pretty strange !

  • Mayan820 on December 17, 2013, 5:30 GMT

    Please allow me to say the following as a Protea supporter . . . Guys let us leave all arrogant talk to the Ausies, please. This is who they are, not us South Africans. Our players do their talking on the field of play, only, and we should follow their example. It is stupidity to write this Indian team off; they are a quality team with excellent players. Please remember what happened last time they played a test series here - If it wasn't for Kallis who batted while in terrible agony, at Newlands, South Africa would have lost that series 2-1, for sure. Don't be arrogant; it always comes before a fall! IT IS WRITTEN!

  • naleem8734 on December 17, 2013, 4:53 GMT

    india need to work hard for facing steyn,philander and morkal

  • El_Toro_Loco on December 17, 2013, 2:08 GMT

    @ CricIndia208: Keep living in the dream world, india will loose both tests before the end of day3. Your so called talent may be studs at home with media hype but actually they're duds as proven as proven last week. So wake up & face the music. Ciao

  • Nampally on December 16, 2013, 22:07 GMT

    @MAK123: Zaheer has got Smith 6 times in Tests. This is a unique feat which makes Smith ZAK's Bunny, at least in the eyes of the media. ZAK is not making a big deal out of it - it is the "Media". Junaid & Irfan, the Pakistan's ace pace bowlers were hammered royally by Smith enroute to his double century! When bowlers like ZAK can be found all round Karachi & Lahore, Why didn't Pakistan play one of those bowlers when Smith scored a double Ton vs. Pakistan? Perhaps their odds of getting Smith out would have been greater than those of Junaid & Irfan!

  • Nampally on December 16, 2013, 21:56 GMT

    @Haz95:Some of your comments are appropriate but I am surprised as to why you call India arrogant? They have mostly youngsters who are trying to get used to the SA pitches. By beating Australia, a team does not become arrogant overnight! I am disappointed at your conclusion. As for the Indian batting Pujara is definitely one of the top 5 batsmen on whom Indian batting rides. Sadly he was dropped from ODI's because Dhoni felt his batting lineup is "too strong" to accommodate Pujara . Pujara goes into Tests now without a single ball practice in the middle. He has the right technique, discipline & patience but is Rusty. I also agree with you that Shami will be leader of the bowling attack. On performance of these 2 lie Indian hopes of making a fight of this Test series. I disagree with you in writing the rest of the Indians off! SA relied mainly on their openers + AB de Velliers, to win the ODI series. If ZAK gets Smith early, its game on.This is behind for ZAK vs. Smith media Hype!

  • Mike_Tyson on December 16, 2013, 21:10 GMT

    I am amazed at the level of flak the Indian team is receiving here! Some people are calling them arrogant after having one against Aus and WI. Im sorry but which team doesn't brag after a series win?? Do Aus not do it, Eng? Even SA have plenty to say after a series win (in this case even before the series has begun. I also dont think Ind will win a test but I definitely am not going to give them flak even before they have started. This is a young inexperienced side and like it or not, over the time they will become one of the best sides in the world in all conditions.

  • Rumy1 on December 16, 2013, 17:41 GMT

    Considering the requirements of lively tracks and the pace and bounce of South African pacers in their own backyard, skills, temperament, experience and form of Wasim Jaffer was required there. Jaffer should have been the first opener in the Test at Johannesburg. He is still easily the best Test openerin India today. Steyn, Philander and Morkel will eat Murali Vijay in the first session itself. Johannesburg is the fastest track there and not sure if even Kohli has the technique to survive the trio of Steyn, Philander and Morkel on that track. At the moment only Pujara and Rohit seem to have the technique and temperament to cope with them. Sincerely believe that Ashwin will be a big flop in the Tests in SA. Likes of Amla, Devilliers and Kallis will dominate Ashwin's average off spin skills as sadly there will not be the supporting dusty tracks of home to help him out there. Bhajji should have been there in SA for Tests but could Bhajji be there with Dhoni at the helms??Point to ponder..

  • bowledout67 on December 17, 2013, 12:25 GMT

    if India bat first and manage to survive the opening spells of Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn, then India may reach a sizable total. If not, then we may be in for a situation where South Africa lead by 300 come close of play on day 1.

  • Dabak on December 17, 2013, 7:55 GMT

    @ Mayan820 :- Truly from your comments exposes your balanced personality and your knowledge of the WORD, "... Don't be arrogant; it always comes before a fall! IT IS WRITTEN!" ,, GREAT - appreciate it :) and Thank for not writing the Indian team off,, Kudos !!

    To the rest :- Well well well, I'm a hardcore cricket (INDIAN) fan myself but to be honest - it is going to be a TOUGH series and I seriously feel we're under-cooked. We've got a very young crop of batsmen and if lose 0-2, we'll take it !! What matters is we show resilience and put up a fight.. We're up against the BEST QUICKS in the World (arguably) and the BEST TEST TEAM today is SOUTH AFRICA - they've earned it and deservedly they've reached the Top spot. The BCCI should've been more serious in this series and prepared our men knowing we're going to face the BEST TEST team in the world, and not turning up for a Zimbabwe tour (with due respect to Zimbabweans). About ZAK vs BIFF - no comments there are 20 other players involved

  • on December 17, 2013, 7:26 GMT

    I don't see De-kock in the test squad. Pretty strange !

  • Mayan820 on December 17, 2013, 5:30 GMT

    Please allow me to say the following as a Protea supporter . . . Guys let us leave all arrogant talk to the Ausies, please. This is who they are, not us South Africans. Our players do their talking on the field of play, only, and we should follow their example. It is stupidity to write this Indian team off; they are a quality team with excellent players. Please remember what happened last time they played a test series here - If it wasn't for Kallis who batted while in terrible agony, at Newlands, South Africa would have lost that series 2-1, for sure. Don't be arrogant; it always comes before a fall! IT IS WRITTEN!

  • naleem8734 on December 17, 2013, 4:53 GMT

    india need to work hard for facing steyn,philander and morkal

  • El_Toro_Loco on December 17, 2013, 2:08 GMT

    @ CricIndia208: Keep living in the dream world, india will loose both tests before the end of day3. Your so called talent may be studs at home with media hype but actually they're duds as proven as proven last week. So wake up & face the music. Ciao

  • Nampally on December 16, 2013, 22:07 GMT

    @MAK123: Zaheer has got Smith 6 times in Tests. This is a unique feat which makes Smith ZAK's Bunny, at least in the eyes of the media. ZAK is not making a big deal out of it - it is the "Media". Junaid & Irfan, the Pakistan's ace pace bowlers were hammered royally by Smith enroute to his double century! When bowlers like ZAK can be found all round Karachi & Lahore, Why didn't Pakistan play one of those bowlers when Smith scored a double Ton vs. Pakistan? Perhaps their odds of getting Smith out would have been greater than those of Junaid & Irfan!

  • Nampally on December 16, 2013, 21:56 GMT

    @Haz95:Some of your comments are appropriate but I am surprised as to why you call India arrogant? They have mostly youngsters who are trying to get used to the SA pitches. By beating Australia, a team does not become arrogant overnight! I am disappointed at your conclusion. As for the Indian batting Pujara is definitely one of the top 5 batsmen on whom Indian batting rides. Sadly he was dropped from ODI's because Dhoni felt his batting lineup is "too strong" to accommodate Pujara . Pujara goes into Tests now without a single ball practice in the middle. He has the right technique, discipline & patience but is Rusty. I also agree with you that Shami will be leader of the bowling attack. On performance of these 2 lie Indian hopes of making a fight of this Test series. I disagree with you in writing the rest of the Indians off! SA relied mainly on their openers + AB de Velliers, to win the ODI series. If ZAK gets Smith early, its game on.This is behind for ZAK vs. Smith media Hype!

  • Mike_Tyson on December 16, 2013, 21:10 GMT

    I am amazed at the level of flak the Indian team is receiving here! Some people are calling them arrogant after having one against Aus and WI. Im sorry but which team doesn't brag after a series win?? Do Aus not do it, Eng? Even SA have plenty to say after a series win (in this case even before the series has begun. I also dont think Ind will win a test but I definitely am not going to give them flak even before they have started. This is a young inexperienced side and like it or not, over the time they will become one of the best sides in the world in all conditions.

  • Rumy1 on December 16, 2013, 17:41 GMT

    Considering the requirements of lively tracks and the pace and bounce of South African pacers in their own backyard, skills, temperament, experience and form of Wasim Jaffer was required there. Jaffer should have been the first opener in the Test at Johannesburg. He is still easily the best Test openerin India today. Steyn, Philander and Morkel will eat Murali Vijay in the first session itself. Johannesburg is the fastest track there and not sure if even Kohli has the technique to survive the trio of Steyn, Philander and Morkel on that track. At the moment only Pujara and Rohit seem to have the technique and temperament to cope with them. Sincerely believe that Ashwin will be a big flop in the Tests in SA. Likes of Amla, Devilliers and Kallis will dominate Ashwin's average off spin skills as sadly there will not be the supporting dusty tracks of home to help him out there. Bhajji should have been there in SA for Tests but could Bhajji be there with Dhoni at the helms??Point to ponder..

  • MAK123 on December 16, 2013, 17:34 GMT

    Unneccesary hype being created for an average medium pacer. Such bowlers can be found playing street Cricket all around Karachi and Lahore :-) On the other hand, Smith is a world class batsman with a proven track record of some of the most frearsome bowlers of the world

  • Beertjie on December 16, 2013, 17:16 GMT

    Agree entirely @Haz95 on (December 16, 2013, 15:09 GMT): "As a neutral observer, although I want India to get hammered due to their arrogance" and it will surely happen. Kallis is no longer the man, though, nor are they dependent on Smith succeeding. Despite this, they are so much stronger than India in batting and bowling that no amount of rain delays will prevent a whitewash in both tests. It's the bounce and the pace.

  • mahi678 on December 16, 2013, 16:23 GMT

    @jose puliampata, yes team is young and good bunch of selector. but there is still a lot of talent in india to explore. to win in SA, its not just bowling but batting too should come up. bowling depends on how captain uses his bowlers and how he puts pressure on opposition at different spells- just no need to blame bowlers- need to pick right bowlers to situation. dhoni needs lot to improve in that area. but things will improve as india tours various countries- finally would be favorites for world cup. but major concern is dhoni's cataincy when team is fielding.

  • on December 16, 2013, 16:04 GMT

    let be very honest,despite Smith being a champion batsman and g a great one at that but it will be a big lie if his former coach thinks Zaheer wont be in the mind of Smith,probably Zaheer wont get as much success against him this time but Smith will definitely be very cautious against Zak..overall SA has a very strong batting line up man to man and their bowling attack cant be compared with our poor attack.My Take-2-0 to SA with big margins.I wont mind losing to SA if india shows some fight,hoping for a great series unlike our previous two tour to Aus and Eng which was so one sided.

  • Rajesh.Kumar on December 16, 2013, 15:54 GMT

    I am actually upset with our own BCCI as to why they don't give the same importance to South Africa which they give to teams like England and Australia. This is particularly shocking at present, because South Africa is the number one ranked test team. India should have played at least 5 ODIs and 4 tests in South Africa, and should invite South Africa to India also for four tests at least. They should also have arrived in South Africa earlier than this to get some practice time. By playing good teams more often, will our young players get much needed exposure. Now we have a bunch of top five batsmen, none of whom have any experience of playing in SAFs, except Pujara. I hope that they will come good against Steyn et al, but hope is all we can hope for. I have to say that South Africa deserve a lot more respect than BCCI has given them so far.

  • Haz95 on December 16, 2013, 15:09 GMT

    As a neutral observer, although I want India to get hammered due to their arrogance since beating aus/win, I also would like to see promising prospects like Shami and Pujara succeeding... Don't understand how Kohli is the go to man in tests, the one man who will fight a fair bit with Dhoni is Pujara. Once his wicket is gone, goodbye India. Also, what is this zaheer vs smith, smith has come fresh with a 234 against one of the worlds strongest bowling attack at their home, players like old zaheer, jadeja, ashwin will all be no problem. In bowling the only one who will put a fight up is Shami... Also Smith is not SAs go to man(even tho he's world class), since they have the 2 best batsmen(amla+de vills) in the world atm together along with the legend Kallis. Also tahirs spin may come handy since it will be a surprise. And we already know what their lethal trio of pacers is capable of....Good luck india, as u surely are gonna need it.

  • on December 16, 2013, 14:57 GMT

    Don't really believe Cook that Zak is not on Smith's mind. As a professional, I think Smith has worked or is working in how to take on Zak. That's what all professionals do, work on their weaknesses and grow as an individual. If not, they are not doing justice to their game.

  • on December 16, 2013, 14:37 GMT

    More than ZAK, SHAMI or ISHANT, I have hopes with Yadav, the guy has zip ... can bowl 140+kph long spells and can cross the 150k barrier at times, though he's spraygun at times but when he's on line..his reverse wing can create huge problems for SA batsman, series against England when India won the solitary test..he was the only pacer from India who troubled English batsman with his speed, swing and accuracy even on the dead pitches and was faster than Bresnan, Anderson or Broad....hope Dhoni uses him as the strike bowler..

  • concerned_cricketer on December 16, 2013, 14:29 GMT

    @TommyTuckerSaffa, On that interesting comment regarding Shami Vs Khan, I wish your prediction would come true. As an India fan, that would make me happy if a young Indian seamer who showed promise even on the unhelpful pitches of India comes out and does better than Khan in SA. It would augur well for the future of Indian cricket for the next few years. But one thing must be noted - Khan did not get the success he has had at various times in his career due to his pace or any one specific skill. He is a wily bowler whose main strength is an ability to out-think batsmen and take advantage of conditions. His ability to get a wicket against the run of play, as much as I have followed Indian test cricket, is uncanny. The cons against Khan are a tendency to not work hard enough or keep trim, a tendency to pick up injuries mainly due to former. He says he motivated himself to make a comeback, so hopefully we will get to see a bit more of his unusual bowler brain.

  • Imad_K on December 16, 2013, 14:00 GMT

    India need to remember they don't have anything in the bowling department that will trouble South Africa - definitely in the pace region. G Smith tries to virtually hit every ball down the leg side so I'm not surprised he gets troubled by certain bowlers - but he knows he strengths and his determination and will power makes him a successful batsmen. If India make South Africa even bat twice in these Test matches - that would be an accomplishment for them. If they have the same batting lineup - that stuggles against quick short bowling in these conditions then these Test matches will last 3/4 days max. India are lucky this tour is shortened otherwise it would have been a bigger humiliation.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on December 16, 2013, 13:57 GMT

    For the record Shami will be far more of a handful than Zaheer, will take more wickets on this tour than Zaheer AND will have a more prolific career. He bowls fast (140-145kmh), he swings it and has excellent seam position.

    There, that should please some Indian fans!!

  • AH_USA on December 16, 2013, 13:49 GMT

    Zaheer Khan is prone to injuries and it will be interesting to watch how long he stays fit in this series. He is a decent bowler at best and not the kind that can create havoc and his average and the number of wickets taken reflect that. Let's see what happens in the 2-test series.

  • gsingh7 on December 16, 2013, 13:42 GMT

    smith is zaheer's bunny and he will fall to him, again. smith and sa usually deteriorate when put under little pressure. we seen than in world cup games. they dont handle pressure well and zaheer will exploit that weakness.

  • on December 16, 2013, 13:04 GMT

    rohit sharma played well in two odies but unfortunately felt i think india go for rock and rohit made his third century in 1st match in tests and good to see zaheer back and young india batting !!!!! go india go dont underestimate the power of india team

  • armchairjohnny on December 16, 2013, 12:44 GMT

    Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill. It's a pity such casual tongue-in-cheek remarks are taken out of context. These two teams have a good deal of respect for each other, any pre-series comments by the players from both sides have been zoomed in on and over-analyzed. Not only can I wait for this series to begin, I can't wait for it to be over. It feels like people have been talking about this particular series for years as if its the impending apocalypse of doom. Looking forward to watching both sides in sporting conditions after a long time, and may good competitive test cricket be the winner.

  • rsnl on December 16, 2013, 12:30 GMT

    It will be interesting to see the Zahir-Smith battle again. Hope Zahir will get his wicket again.

  • on December 16, 2013, 12:28 GMT

    Cricket is full of surprises. Indian batsmen are talented and they may raise to the occasion and I hope they will generate some interest in the series by playing some good cricket both in the batting and bowling departments.

  • MCC_Tie on December 16, 2013, 12:17 GMT

    I think the Saffers are fired up for this one, if their bowling attack gets it right, especially on a spicy Wanderers track it could be a very interesting game. Bring on Wednesday!

  • on December 16, 2013, 11:08 GMT

    @Bladerunner what has your team done.when was the last time your team beat us in a final..lol keep remembering,should be long time ago.when was the last time SL won a test match in India lol never thats a pityfull record. :D

  • Captain_Tuk_Tuk on December 16, 2013, 11:07 GMT

    I don't know why India are talking more about bowling when there batting is exposed? I doubt they'll survive 1st spell of Styen and Philander with the red ball. They were struggling to score with the white ball because they have played lots of cricket on Indian flat pitches.

    Yes bowlers win Test matches and there is no 2nd thought on that one but batters are suppose to make an escape when worse happens and Smith is just one player South Africa have 10 more out of them 7 or 6 would be good batters. Gone are the days when India had Tendulkar, Laxman and Dravid this young India side need to stand up against the most fearsome Test attack under these conditions for me its 80% South Africa and if India scored under 100 in 1 of the 4 innings I wouldn't be surprised.

  • Fijicricket on December 16, 2013, 10:54 GMT

    Pakistan were all out for 49 against Sth Africa . Is there anybody out there who thinks India will make less? lolzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • Fijicricket on December 16, 2013, 10:50 GMT

    @ Mian Sami Ullah Khan on (December 16, 2013, 10:18 GMT) Pakistan were all out for 49! At least you agree India will do 3 times better when you say will India cross 150! Thanks for acknowledging the fact!

  • Blade-Runner on December 16, 2013, 10:41 GMT

    Once again, India are doing what they do best : TALK. Unfortunately, They can't walk the talk. Now they talk about 36 yrs OLD Zaheer like he is the most fearsome bowler n the world. What are India exactly trying to achieve with an aging bowlers whose bowling avg is 30+ ? He s gonna get humiliated in this tour. So then he can go back to do what old people do. solving crosswords and playing Bingo.

  • Sagarneel on December 16, 2013, 10:38 GMT

    Let there be the talks, who cares! As an Indian, I'm mightily relieved that we finally will have a bowler in a long long time, who we know can give us wickets any time. One more thing - although we can never predict anything in cricket, we can be sure of a couple of Hashim Amla tons!

  • StrYdeRZA on December 16, 2013, 10:28 GMT

    @TommytuckerSaffa, c'mon dude.

    I generally enjoy your comments but the last little while they seem to be coming across as slightly nasty. Don't temper your support for SA, just maybe some of the remarks about India?

    The Wanderers is going to be a huge test for the Indians and given their recent performances and lack of decent preparation(BCCI?!?), short of them getting to bowl in the 1st couple of sessions and making decent inroads into the SA batting order it's hard to see how else they could go about winning the match.

    Kingsmead is going to be a whole other story, whatever the Indian performance in the 1st test, barring injuries, they will better in the 2nd and don't forget they have awesome talent in helpful conditions and SA still has a bit of a soft belly in that middle order, the Indians could be blown away in the 1st few sessions but outside of that it's probably going be much tougher contest.

  • Vivfan on December 16, 2013, 10:26 GMT

    @CricIndia208 & All Indian fans, please dont jump off your rocker just yet, leave comments about your "great" batsman dominating SA bowler until the series has ended. I suppose Tahir wont even get a chance to bowl, the seamers will carve up your poor batsman. This is a Test match; not India's strong suit. India got destroyed in ODI series which India are supposedly "No. 1" Lol.

  • Teja_Smart on December 16, 2013, 10:20 GMT

    @TommytuckerSaffa: Still IND won world cup in 2007 and 2011. What South Africa done with ur great Steyn. But IND went to finals and won the ODI WC with Zaheer n team(bowling).

  • on December 16, 2013, 10:18 GMT

    Now this is something Zaheer Khan is kidding. I am worried about Indian so called strong batting line, will they cross 150 against Steyn, Philandar and Morkel?

  • Teja_Smart on December 16, 2013, 10:16 GMT

    @Silly South Africans: Don't be too much confident and don't underestimate team india's pace attack. We have swinging Shami, experienced Zaheer and Ishanth looks very fine with his arm in the last ODI. This is not ODI cricket and we are not going to chase 300+ runs in 50overs. Our batsmen know what to do. They'll definitely fight against ur best 3(steyn, morkel and Philander) and get runs.

  • Qa_ankit on December 16, 2013, 10:12 GMT

    GOD IAM LOVING THIS. Gosh this is only 2 match series and still so much Gloshering. Well I am glad so much is still there is test match series. This is most awaited series for India/S.Afr schedule this year. @S.Afr Fans: Good to see you hammering us with words. It's just world class scenes when two country back up's their own TEAM. Great to see you support for your Team.

    @Indian Fan's (Me too): We should agree on this point that without our Furious 5 (Sachin, Laxman, Dravid, Ganguly and Kumble) we are weaken and with frauding form of (Gambhir and Sehwag) it is more difficult. Also i can't see any one expect Zaheer of the same status. So we are weak in bowling and shattering it batting. Come on guys, we want to see same Batting what we did against W.I or Aus in India. I know thats complete diff story but still. Else get ready for thrashing by World Class Bowling.

    Waiting like anything for 1st test.

  • ambrosefan on December 16, 2013, 10:09 GMT

    Indian will lose all matches easily. Steyn will easily run through our batting line up. Amla, kallis and AB will have a feast against Indian bowling which is worse than club level. I would be happy even if Indians could a draw a match over there.

  • fayyaz03 on December 16, 2013, 9:57 GMT

    Why so much publicity about it? To spice up a series, exchange of words should be between best players. Zaheer is not best at all. I feel Shami will come out as a better bowler. And same is the case with Smith. Amla and Develiiers are much better than him. The real battle is going to be Steyn vs Pujara or V.Kohli. In my view, South Africa have 8 out of 11 players matching the Test match standard whereas India at the moment have only these 2.

  • Yogeshdg on December 16, 2013, 9:51 GMT

    Enough debate guys. let us have some action! Just another 2 days !

  • on December 16, 2013, 9:42 GMT

    Are India's bowling resources that slim that they have to go back to Zaheer? He was finished years ago, look at the tonking he got in England a couple of years ago.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on December 16, 2013, 9:37 GMT

    Zaheers bowling average in SA is 32.52..... Steyns bowling average in India is 21.....

    No comment required.

  • Yousafahmed11 on December 16, 2013, 9:26 GMT

    @ThilankaK . Why don't you have dare to predict our own SL team. SL donot have any other place to hide, may be because of that!

  • CricIndia208 on December 16, 2013, 9:19 GMT

    South African friends, you guys should be joking. Our batsmen will have Tahir for breakfast. In the past our batsmen had murdered Abdul qadir and Shane Warne. Tahir is nothing.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on December 16, 2013, 9:18 GMT

    Ok, so the old man Zaheer gets Smith out, then what? What is Plan B? Once Smith is out then India need to get out some of the best batsmen in the world (Kallis, Amla, AB de Villers) who have PROVEN track records on ALL surfaces and pitches.

    How is India going to get 20 wickets without a dust-bowl and a pop-gun seam attack? Only 2 days to go, I just cant wait.... Such a pity the BCCI reduced the tour, but not its obvious why they did it.

  • ASK3 on December 16, 2013, 8:46 GMT

    @Tal_Botvinnik, Tahir? Really? The Steyn part I can probably agree with considering the guy is a tremendous bowler, but Tahir? He has a god awful record in tests and highly inconsistent; he's just Harris all over again.

    But I can agree partly with your statement that acclimatisation shouldn't be a problem in the sense that they've spent time in SA already and should have gotten used to the conditions somewhat; but the fact that they haven't yet had a practice match for the longer format isn't really fair (I blame the BCCI for this).

  • TrueIndian4ever on December 16, 2013, 8:42 GMT

    India should hire bowlers from pak B or even under 19 team. Potential is unlimited.

  • PK-KID on December 16, 2013, 8:34 GMT

    By the way ,Who is zaheer Khan ? he is less than average (ordinary)bowler

  • majums2003 on December 16, 2013, 8:30 GMT

    Sorry, but Jimmy Cook's wishful thinking will remain an aspiration unfulfilled. In a day or two, his castle will come crashing down from the thin air where it was built! Neither Zaheer nor any Indian is thinking what Jimmy thinks we are thinking. His comments betray an inbuilt lack of confidence and fear for the inevitable.

  • BellCurve on December 16, 2013, 8:27 GMT

    It's pathetic that Zaheer is the best a country with 1.219 billion people can produce in more than 10 years. Even at his peak he was just average. And he is way past his peak now. Smith will smash him to all parts of the ground.

  • CherryWood_Champion on December 16, 2013, 8:21 GMT

    @ThilankaK .... so far 100% ... but law of average is never 100 ... so I am hoping by the end of the series your predictions come down to 50% ... cheers ;)

  • on December 16, 2013, 7:34 GMT

    my xi for 1st test 1.dhawan 2.rohit 3.pujara 4.kohli 5.rahane 6.dhoni 7.ashwin/jadeja 8.shami ahmed 9.umesh 10.ishant 11.zak ...this xi for Johannesburg where bowl bounces more and wicket suited for hit the deck kind of bowlers..bhuvi for ishant for durban is my only replacement for second test ..but india must play with zak umesh and shami because these 3 are best in test ..please dont overhyped ishant for last odi performance where batsmen gave their wickets to ishant....we need bowlers who can take wickets and not bowlers who depend on batsmen to throw their wickets like ishant vinay dinda mohit sharmas and unadkat

  • Eclipse0990 on December 16, 2013, 7:15 GMT

    Oh...And since people ask too much about pitches in India. It depends more on the geography than the curator. A place like Chennai can not have a seaming wicket. Mohali can. Infact, at this time of the year, the pitches in India are "sportive". That more or less depends on the weather too. But it doesn't stay like this all year. Flat pitches are made for a few series because it can at best be made a spinning track. But that will just ensure India's victory(Not always. Ref: England's tour). Just look at WACA. The pitch is bouncy because of soil. Not because Australia can make WACA a spinning track.

  • Night_Fury on December 16, 2013, 7:06 GMT

    I am an Indian Cricket Fan to the core, but to all my friends across the globe, who thinks India can even draw the series to 1-1 or 0-0, maybe will get a shock of life. Tour to SA, ENG and AUS should be well planned but this tour looks like every one is in hurry. I really dont think with 2 ODIs you can get habitual to conditions. Practice match washed off. Its not a good indication of whats going to come.I see only 6 days of test cricket with a 2-0 whitewash for SA. Batsmen might do well but we got a 3rd grade bowling attack barring Zak.For the 1st time ever i feel we dont even have a quality spinner and i cant see class any where in domestic circles. IPL contributing here. Our fast bowlers cant even restrict oppostion of bowler friendly tracks. When i see bowlers getting chance again and again, it saddens me to think about the lack of bowling potential in our country. Next few months would be mahyem for team India as they travel abroad without half-decent bowlers and SACHIN TENDULKAR.

  • ThilankaK on December 16, 2013, 6:46 GMT

    NO WAY moonda, this time zaheer will Smith's bunny !! I'm sure smith will get another 100+ in 1st test !!! so far my prediction were 100% accurate !!!!

  • Tal_Botvinnik on December 16, 2013, 5:29 GMT

    CricIndia208: Drew the series with their top 3 (Sachin, Dravid, Laman) and there was no philander, Imran tahir too. LOL Steyn, Morne, Philander can skin your current batsmen alive. Anyway with the ODI Series over the acclimatisation part should not be a excuse.

  • JustOUT on December 16, 2013, 5:23 GMT

    Steyn will be BIT disappointed not to see his bunny Sehwag.. I think he is still sweeping Indian pitches in their domestic matches. LOL!!!

  • Yogeshdg on December 16, 2013, 5:02 GMT

    It is good to be positive about things but I have realized that it is better to watch cricket neutrally to enjoy it more. Both teams are talented. However India does not have any match winning player. I know everyone has their days but just like we are worried about steyn , I doubt SA players are worried about any of our bowlers barring a few batsmen.

    We have tours of NZ and england after this. Life is tough:)

  • tuggah on December 16, 2013, 5:01 GMT

    India will be shot out under hundred at least twice in this series. Indians have no idea what is coming.

  • mattandy on December 16, 2013, 4:59 GMT

    @Posted by CricIndia208 on (December 16, 2013, 3:59 GMT), damn mate, you must be genious or a future predictor because you are so sure that Your team will win the test series!!!!LOL. i wonder what was your prediction before the ODi series!!! By your comments I'm assuming that you must have predicted the same, i,e,. India win and did not happen and your reason was "Lack of prctice match"!!!Am I right??? Please don't underestimate us we beat you guys twice last week and it may happen in the test also. What will be your excuse then, i wonder!!!!

  • Semoli on December 16, 2013, 4:57 GMT

    Zaheer being the leader of the pack is a titular head. He has yet to redeem himself after the irresponsibility of bad fitness. He should just bowl and help out!

  • on December 16, 2013, 4:57 GMT

    Zaheer is not as lethal as his last visit to South Africa therefore I am not really sure whether he will be able to threat Graeme Smith this time around. Also South Africa batting is very formidable with Amla, Kallis and AB in the middle providing solid batting line up, therefore Smith will be able to play more freely this time which could add more runs to him than losing his wicket.

  • on December 16, 2013, 4:56 GMT

    Say whatever you want, Smith is Zak's bunny. Can't wait for 1st test to start.

  • bhushanB on December 16, 2013, 4:24 GMT

    This subject does not deserve an article by itself.... may be a line or two in the preview...

  • on December 16, 2013, 4:12 GMT

    zaheer is back after nearly one year, so we can't entirely say he will perform... for me zaheer is there to guide the young, performance from him is secondary. what this young bowling lineup need is guidance from their seniors.... that.Zack can provide.... and India should go with 3 or 4 pacers with ashwin as bowling allrounder, JADEJA or ojha doesn't fit in... Zack, umesh, shami, ishant/bhuvi should be bowling line up.... but I doubt dhoni can't captain 4pacers.... virat should play at 4, he is too good player that you can't play him down the order, that's May be one reason why he isn't successful yet in tests.... Rohit is natural test player and can fit in anywhere between 3 and 6 .... dhawan should learn how to respect the bowlers.... that is what I saw in sehwag, he was on the go from ball 1 but he respects the bowlers which they deserve... dhawan needs to learn that...

  • CricIndia208 on December 16, 2013, 3:59 GMT

    India will win as they have the more talented team. Unlike Pakistan or Sri Lanka who lost their last series in South Africa 0-3 and 1-2 respectively, India drew their last series. In fact they would won it but for a brilliant innings from Kallis. We have to remember that India are the world champions and just need a bit of acclimatisation.

  • JustOUT on December 16, 2013, 3:09 GMT

    If Smith is the only focus for Zaheer & team india, then they are wrong. Each and every batsman in SA team has got a weight of runs behind them and each of them is a match winner. Of coz, if Smith dazzles then there is no way team india can atleast draw a match. That's the power of a 100 from Smith. SA never lost a match or series whenever he scored a 100 in Test.

  • on December 16, 2013, 2:55 GMT

    Openers in both skills batting & bowling will define our series to be competitive. If they don't, its going to be over pretty quickly. SA are over confident, it looks like from their talk, and we sure need few things/luck going our way. Who knows we may steal something :)

  • Dhanno on December 16, 2013, 2:52 GMT

    Smith is irrelevant to Saffers fortunes, the line up is strong enough if he fails. Amla, AB and others can hold their own. Having said that, Zak shouldnt hve opened his mouth, the guy is coming back from injury/ layoff/ time-out and all that and has to prove himself first. If he can bowl 20 overs a day for 70 odd runs that would be a start (ya thats like the yardstick , basic requirement in test cricket for long time to bowl min 18-20 overs a day, recent phenomenon where it is good if you concede 32 runs in 4 over!)

  • on December 16, 2013, 2:03 GMT

    It may come as a surprise that Graeme Smith is an openeing batsman and Zaheer Kahn a opening bowler and more times than not an Opening bowler will dismiss an opening batsman . I still remember the articles of the last series here in SA saying that Smith is so scared that he didnt want to take first ball strike in the second innings of a Test - That obviously had nothing to do with the fact that He and Pietersen rotates first ball strike.

  • on December 16, 2013, 2:03 GMT

    People talking about Smith's technical deficiencies should revisit his Test career stats. Averaging around 50 as an opener over a 100-Test career tells me that he hasn't been worked out at all. Khan has got him out a few times. Smith remains one of the most successful opening batsmen in the history of the game.

  • Johnny_129 on December 16, 2013, 1:46 GMT

    I hope India has a Plan B and not just banking on Zak nailing Smith! Sometimes I get the impression that India goes into games without really a set plan for each batsman - They seem to start bowling and then seek plans, depending on how the batsman is playing. It is good to be able to adjust plans but not having one to begin with allows a batsman to settle and make it more difficult to dismiss batsmen. A foreign coach can implement this into the team but I am also questioning Fletcher's role and commitment!

  • on December 16, 2013, 1:21 GMT

    LoL, too much hype and talk about the game already. Let the action begin boys!! We will see who is better, because it depends on the day and pitch not on Smith or Khan.

  • DRS_Flawed_NeedsImprovement on December 16, 2013, 0:57 GMT

    really smith is not a top class batsman. Zak will do that again

  • Coolcapricorn on December 16, 2013, 0:37 GMT

    As an Indian fan, really great to a fit-again Zaheer back as he adds class plus variety to the Indian pace attack! Hope he has a good series against SA, pity it is only just two Tests.

  • on December 16, 2013, 0:35 GMT

    One simple Equation:

    Everyone says that Indian Bowling is poor and Indian pitches are flat i.e., Batting friendly. All other test playing nations(If not all... atleast Top 5 teams)l claim that they have better bowling units than Indians..

    This implies that In Indian flat pitches, Indian batsman are playing against quality fast bowling attack and Other top 5 nations when playing against India in India are playing against poor Indian bowling attack.. Still India manages to win in India. Does it imply that Indian batting is superior to others??

  • on December 16, 2013, 0:25 GMT

    Graeme Smith is experienced enough, as much as Zak is, to handle the duel between them. Howsoever interesting (or disastrous) it may turn out; let us not forget it is a game of XI Vs XI.

    It's more interesting to see how the relatively young Indian team is going to fare against a formidable team like South Africa. I am mentally prepared for India losing to SA, even 2-nil; but would be delighted if I could see the fight the young Indians put up. If they draw both it's good; win one it's great; win both it's manna from heaven!

    This Indian team has the core for the future, and an early opportunity to hone up their skills (both cricketing & mental), against SA is what I am looking for.

    The current Indian selectors are not short sighted; and have a mission & vision for the future. I wish the "new breed" selectors and their chosen team for the future, all the success. If corrections are needed, these selectors are capable of factoring those, into the mix, while making the next moves.

  • jango_moh on December 15, 2013, 23:43 GMT

    as an indian fan, it will be surprising to see india win either of these matches.... wat im looking for is fight from this young indian team, bcos i beleive they have the talent to eventually succeed on fast/bouncy wickets.... might not happen this series, but hopefully in some of the later tours!!!! if they do well in this really shortened SA tour, that would be a bonus in my honest opinion!!!!

  • the_blue_android on December 15, 2013, 22:41 GMT

    Someone should remind Zaheer that he got Smith out when he used to be a medium fast bowler bowling at 132-135 kmph. Now that he's taken up spin bowling, it will be impossible to get him out.

  • Cric_roxxx on December 15, 2013, 22:26 GMT

    As a neutral observer, I would comment that Mohammad Shami may perform better than ZAK in this series..

  • Batmanindallas on December 15, 2013, 21:48 GMT

    I have a fear that this will be end of Zaheers career as Indians get whopped. The tour of past or current so far has not given me confidence of Indians can do well

  • Chris_P on December 15, 2013, 21:30 GMT

    I might be off the mark, but a pace bowler in his 36th year does not perform with the same clarity as a younger version. Even McGrath at the same age was visibly down on his earlier efforts & I would suggest Zak is a few leagues down on G.D.McG. I would doubt Smith is losing sleep about the thought of facing him knowing what a tough cookie he is.

  • InsideHedge on December 15, 2013, 21:24 GMT

    Utter nonsense, so much talk (and writing) over so little. Big deal, Zak has dismissed the SA skipper 6 times. Whoopee! What about the other 9 wickets? Or does he think his job is done as soon as Smith is dismissed? What about his tailing off in the last session of the day?

    What about his 1st tour to SA when he showed up injured and was subsequently replaced for the following Test in India when the selectors picked Iqbal Siddiqui in what would be Iqbal's only Test? What about when he showed up injured on his 1st Oz tour and pulled out after just a Test? Or his last tour to England when he again showed up injured and pulled up in the middle of the opening Lords Test?

    We won't even talk about his big boasting prior to the 2003 WC Final. You know given that he's been out for so long, you'd think Zak would keep a low profile. After all, he went to France with Yuvi, all that super fitness regime hasn't made a jot of difference to Yuvi's game, in fact fallen apart.

  • Nampally on December 15, 2013, 21:16 GMT

    Zaheer has Psychological advantage vs. Smith. ZAK was always a good new ball bowler albeit he does not have the pace of Steyn. But KPH is often an over rated attribute. Bowlers like Alec Bedser or Fazal Mahmood were some of the best medium pacers who used the seam & swing to do the magic for them along with accuracy. ZAK belongs to the class of Fazal & Alec. He is a wily bowler who knows how to exploit the weaknesses of the batsmen. Smith is no duffer either. So it will be Battle Royale! It is green wicket where pacers revel. so ZAK already has the upper hand. One should not read beyond this. ZAK can also reverse swing with the old ball. ZAK & Shami will be the 2 bowlers to watch especially when they operate in pair. ZAK has worked very hard on his fitness- Right now he is Lean, Mean & Hungry albeit bit rusty. India will go definitely with 3 seamers- the other one may be Ishant. Pujara & Vijay will also infuse fresh troops into the battle. Will ZAK + these 2 bats make it count?

  • sixesandfours on December 15, 2013, 20:59 GMT

    Either Zaheer or Ishant or Shami or Yadav ( all 4 h=should include in the first test) will be a good combination to face challenges faced by South Africa Batsman. India should prepare good line and leangths to each SA top batsman. Keeping the 4 pacers with spin is a right combination for India. Jadeja should come in a spin all-rounder for India This should be the lineup with Dhani coming for Sachin's place of batting at 4. Play XI for first test: 1. Dhawan 2.Vijay 3.Pujara 4.Dhoni 5. Kohli 6. Rohit 7. Jadeja 8. Zaheer 9. Shami 10. Ishant 11. Yadav. Best wishes to India. God Bless!!!

  • on December 15, 2013, 20:54 GMT

    After being out of competitive cricket for such a long time, it is difficult to get back and have a great run. Age is not on his side also. I wouldn't expect a great show from Zaheer himself. But, I think it may lift the other bowlers on his side. We should expect India to compete and not gift an easy victory to SA.

  • bujjerbattu on December 15, 2013, 20:32 GMT

    @ Cpt.Meanster : Well said sir ! thats all i am looking forward to, some good competitive cricket

  • CherryWood_Champion on December 15, 2013, 20:14 GMT

    Good that all the talk is for Zak and Bif, that would take of a little pressure off from the Indian batting. From a strategic stand point .. Amla/AB's early wickets will be crucial for India ... while Pujara/Kohli/Rohit 's wickets will be crucial for Saffas. Its going to be a battle between India's young brigade Vs South Africa's seasoned campaigners. Kallis is woefully out of form and age is catching up with him. But again any batsman can easily hit purple patch against the Indian bowling. Will be interesting to see if that happens.

  • IndCricFan2013 on December 15, 2013, 19:58 GMT

    Any professional cricketer of high standards like Smith, would think of you got me more than few times, but it is my turn to go one up against you. Rest is all media hype up before the match.

  • mzm149 on December 15, 2013, 19:29 GMT

    Smith just made a double century in his last test and that too on alien ground. Zaheer is coming back after a year after getting spanking. Indian bowling is pathetic to say the least. South Africans will have to declare in all innings as Indian bowlers are incapable of taking 20 wickets. We saw how crippled Indian batsmen were against good seam and swing bowling. I am waiting for under 100 innings for India.

  • Unomaas on December 15, 2013, 19:27 GMT

    Zaheer is either gonna nail Biff at the Wanderers or Biff is gonna score a hundred. It goes like that with Biff. Go big or go home is what Biff's batting is all about.

    Zaheer has got to nail Biff. That should be Zaheer's 1 and only concern. It doesn't matter what else Zak does but he has to get Smith. If he doesn't get Biff, he's gonna score big runs and then India will see the Saffa batting machine in action. Biff scores a hundred. Amla or kallis scores another hundred and then AB comes in, smashes 100, then in the space of 5 sessions SA has 600 runs. Game over!

    I can't see Shami taking Biff's wicket because Shami will do what all new bowlers do to Biff...trying to bowl at Smith's stumps. Biff will use his weird batting technique and whip it into the legside. Ishant/Yadav will do the same. Biff's batting technique can be frustrating!

    Its all about momentum for the Saffa batsmen. India has got to kill the momentum and the best place to start is Biff's wicket...for cheap runs!

  • sapnil2000 on December 15, 2013, 19:17 GMT

    i remember how zaheer failed against tamim iqbal. i wanna see that battle

  • phat55 on December 15, 2013, 18:56 GMT

    even if Zaheer manages to get Biff out early in either test our batting lineup will still be too strong for the Indian bowling attack.will still be interesting to watch though coz if Biff does manage to dispatch Zaheer then that'll also be another big psychological blow for the already fragile Indian psyche.......coz when he scores runs,we dont lose!!

  • fast_gun on December 15, 2013, 18:51 GMT

    Smith has always had technical deficiencies and good bowlers are always going to exploit that. Will be interesting to see how it pans out. Just wish it was at least a 3 match series.

  • Cpt.Meanster on December 15, 2013, 18:49 GMT

    ZAK has always had the number of Graeme Smith pretty much every time they come face to face. It's a simple fact. That doesn't mean Graeme hasn't worked on his game to counter Zaheer's threat. Let's be honest, Zaheer is the best Indian bowler on this short tour. The rest of the boys are inexperienced and haven't really played a competitive test series against SA in SA. So it's nice to have ZAK back. At the same time, the time has come for the young Indian batting brigade to prove their worth. They need to play freely and forget about the conditions. They will be facing the best fast bowling attack, at least in SA conditions, coming at them. Should be a wonderful series; short n sweet. The Ashes being a one sided borefest, hopefully an 'away' team can compete with the home side here.

  • philvic on December 15, 2013, 18:47 GMT

    both sides can talk as much as they like, what counts is what happens on the field. If Khan is still fast and accurate and swings the ball, he will cause problems for Smith and the other batsmen. If he has lost some speed he will probably not be so effective.

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  • philvic on December 15, 2013, 18:47 GMT

    both sides can talk as much as they like, what counts is what happens on the field. If Khan is still fast and accurate and swings the ball, he will cause problems for Smith and the other batsmen. If he has lost some speed he will probably not be so effective.

  • Cpt.Meanster on December 15, 2013, 18:49 GMT

    ZAK has always had the number of Graeme Smith pretty much every time they come face to face. It's a simple fact. That doesn't mean Graeme hasn't worked on his game to counter Zaheer's threat. Let's be honest, Zaheer is the best Indian bowler on this short tour. The rest of the boys are inexperienced and haven't really played a competitive test series against SA in SA. So it's nice to have ZAK back. At the same time, the time has come for the young Indian batting brigade to prove their worth. They need to play freely and forget about the conditions. They will be facing the best fast bowling attack, at least in SA conditions, coming at them. Should be a wonderful series; short n sweet. The Ashes being a one sided borefest, hopefully an 'away' team can compete with the home side here.

  • fast_gun on December 15, 2013, 18:51 GMT

    Smith has always had technical deficiencies and good bowlers are always going to exploit that. Will be interesting to see how it pans out. Just wish it was at least a 3 match series.

  • phat55 on December 15, 2013, 18:56 GMT

    even if Zaheer manages to get Biff out early in either test our batting lineup will still be too strong for the Indian bowling attack.will still be interesting to watch though coz if Biff does manage to dispatch Zaheer then that'll also be another big psychological blow for the already fragile Indian psyche.......coz when he scores runs,we dont lose!!

  • sapnil2000 on December 15, 2013, 19:17 GMT

    i remember how zaheer failed against tamim iqbal. i wanna see that battle

  • Unomaas on December 15, 2013, 19:27 GMT

    Zaheer is either gonna nail Biff at the Wanderers or Biff is gonna score a hundred. It goes like that with Biff. Go big or go home is what Biff's batting is all about.

    Zaheer has got to nail Biff. That should be Zaheer's 1 and only concern. It doesn't matter what else Zak does but he has to get Smith. If he doesn't get Biff, he's gonna score big runs and then India will see the Saffa batting machine in action. Biff scores a hundred. Amla or kallis scores another hundred and then AB comes in, smashes 100, then in the space of 5 sessions SA has 600 runs. Game over!

    I can't see Shami taking Biff's wicket because Shami will do what all new bowlers do to Biff...trying to bowl at Smith's stumps. Biff will use his weird batting technique and whip it into the legside. Ishant/Yadav will do the same. Biff's batting technique can be frustrating!

    Its all about momentum for the Saffa batsmen. India has got to kill the momentum and the best place to start is Biff's wicket...for cheap runs!

  • mzm149 on December 15, 2013, 19:29 GMT

    Smith just made a double century in his last test and that too on alien ground. Zaheer is coming back after a year after getting spanking. Indian bowling is pathetic to say the least. South Africans will have to declare in all innings as Indian bowlers are incapable of taking 20 wickets. We saw how crippled Indian batsmen were against good seam and swing bowling. I am waiting for under 100 innings for India.

  • IndCricFan2013 on December 15, 2013, 19:58 GMT

    Any professional cricketer of high standards like Smith, would think of you got me more than few times, but it is my turn to go one up against you. Rest is all media hype up before the match.

  • CherryWood_Champion on December 15, 2013, 20:14 GMT

    Good that all the talk is for Zak and Bif, that would take of a little pressure off from the Indian batting. From a strategic stand point .. Amla/AB's early wickets will be crucial for India ... while Pujara/Kohli/Rohit 's wickets will be crucial for Saffas. Its going to be a battle between India's young brigade Vs South Africa's seasoned campaigners. Kallis is woefully out of form and age is catching up with him. But again any batsman can easily hit purple patch against the Indian bowling. Will be interesting to see if that happens.

  • bujjerbattu on December 15, 2013, 20:32 GMT

    @ Cpt.Meanster : Well said sir ! thats all i am looking forward to, some good competitive cricket