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June 25, 2010
Match factsJune 26-30, 2010
After going down in each of the eight matches on tour, across all formats, the high-scoring stalemate in St Kitts came as relief to the West Indies. While questions over the quality of their fast bowling resources persist, the hosts will be pleased with the fact that that their batsmen spent time in the middle. Still their lack of intent in pushing South Africa after reaching a potentially dominant position suggested a defensive mindset. With their inability to bowl out the oppositions twice getting exposed repeatedly, West Indies are likely to approach the third Test looking for a draw.
Expect South Africa to have other plans though. Having faltered in their quest to claim the No. 1 spot in Test cricket in India, Graeme Smith's men will be eager to regain lost ground. In that context, the margin by which they win this series could be crucial. Given the right conditions, their pace attack has shown the ability to bully the hosts' batting line-up, while their batsmen have the nous to survive testing periods. Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel will know that another annihilation of a Test top-order here will fast-track their evolution into one of the most feared new-ball attacks in the game. Led by their fast bowlers, South Africa will come out firing on all cylinders in the decider.
Given the contrasting mindsets that the two sides will bring to the game, the pitch could well decide the course of the match. Historically the tracks at the Kensington Oval have been conducive to bounce and movement but, keeping with the trend throughout the West Indies, there has been a definite slowing down of the pitch in recent times. Though the World Twenty20 games hosted here featured bouncy wickets, there are indications that things will return to old ways. Anything will be an improvement on the country road that was laid out when England visited last year, when a mind-numbing 1649 runs were scored for the loss of 17 wickets.
Form guide (last five completed matches)West Indies DLLDL
Watch out for...Having feasted on the West Indies' attack in the shorter versions, Hashim Amla will be disappointed on wasting opportunities to enhance his reputation as a Test batsman on this trip. While he was removed early in both innings in the first Test, he made starts before falling to Shane Shillingford twice in St Kitts. For a man who collared Harbhajan Singh and co. in the dust bowls of India, it must rankle that he has struggled to deal with an offspinner young to Test cricket. Knowing Amla's methodical ways, he will come back with a plan to counter Shillingford.
This series has re-emphasised the alarming dearth of quality quick bowlers in the West Indies, but Kemar Roach is one man who can address that concern. In the absence of Fidel Edwards and Jerome Taylor, Roach is West Indies' sole hope for carrying on one of their greatest legacies. They sorely missed his penetration in Trinidad, and there was little for his ilk in St Kitts. If there is any spice on the Barbados track, expect Roach to step up.
Team newsDale Richards, who scored a pair of fifties in the ODI series, has been included at the expense of Travis Dowlin, and should open the innings with Chris Gayle. In Ravi Rampaul's absence Nelon Pascal can expect a recall. Darren Sammy suffered a thigh injury during training and is ruled out, but was unlikely to get a call up.
West Indies (likely) 1 Chris Gayle (capt), 2 Dale Richards, 3 Narsingh Deonarine, 4 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 5 Brendan Nash, 6 Dwayne Bravo, 7 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 8 Sulieman Benn, 9 Shane Shillingford, 10 Kemar Roach, 11 Nelon Pascal
South Africa are unlikely to change the combination though Paul Harris will feel the pressure with Johan Botha waiting in the wings for the spinner's slot.
South Africa (likely) 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/Johan Botha, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe
Pitch and conditionsThe pitch supervisor Winston Reid predicts the wicket to settle down after the first few hours, so bowlers can expect another five days of hard grind. Interestingly, Reid hinted at spin in the latter stages of the game, which will interest Shillingford and Sulieman Benn. The weather might come into play at some stage in the match, with scattered showers predicted on all five days.
Stats and Trivia
Quotes"A lot of people write off a lot of guys at 30 but I think when you get to that age, you understand batting more. I don't go in the game with any sort of pressure."
"We have had an excellent tour of the West Indies so far, and it would be a pity not to finish it off on a high note."
Nothing short of a win at the end of the tour will please Graeme Smith.
"We need someone to fill the gap in our bowling. We need someone, or some help for us to get 20 wickets, which will help us win the Test match."
Chris Gayle knows his side's biggest problem area.
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