South Africa v India - second Test, Kingsmead, Durban - 26th-30th December - South Africa lead three-match series 1-0
India will take heart from the batting display in the second innings despite the defeat at Centurion Park, as they posted 459 runs and made the South Africans work hard for the win. The second Test starts in Kingsmead, Durban with a possibility of rain playing spoilsport yet again.
South Africa should expect India to come hard at them in the second Test, with the return of Zaheer Khan strengthening the inexperienced bowling line-up.
- The Super Sport Park strip unleashed venom after being under covers amidst rains in the opening Test. A similar tale awaits Kingsmead, Durban, the venue for the second Test. The last time South Africa played here, they were handed a heavy defeat of an innings and 98 runs by England, with Graeme Swann claiming 9 for 164.The toss may hold the key if the predictions of drizzle towards the start of the game come true.
- The last eight out of nine games at Kingsmead have produced results.
- However, plenty of grass on the track would mean assistance to the fast men along with good carry of the ball towards the wicketkeeper.
- India will hope that their batsman have learnt to adapt with the bounce and movement offered by the South African pitches. More importantly, they would have realised the ability to leave the good balls and prudent shot selection will be critical, as they trail in the three match series 1-0 .
- With India's fast bowlers failing to trouble the Proteas in the first Test at Super Sport Park, the strapping Umesh Yadav could force his way into the team. As far as Suresh Raina is concerned, he will be under threat from the right handed batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, after aggregating a paltry 32 runs in his last six Test innings. Given India’s circumstances in the series at the moment, his selection for the second Test looks doubtful.
- Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni got starts in both the innings and it will give him confidence for the rest of series, while Sachin Tendulkar appeared at ease during both the innings, scoring his 50th Test hundred. Moreover, the opening pair of Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag gave India blazing start by putting on 123 runs for the opening wicket.
- Coach Gary Kirsten is buoyed with left-arm pacer Zaheer Khan’s return for the second Test. The pace spearhead will lend experience and would be crucial to Indian’s fortunes in the second Test with the ball.
- India will have to put runs on the board if they have to compete with a strong South African side. Indian batsman found the combination of Dale Steyn’s pace and Morne Morkel’s bounce too hot to handle in the first Test.
- This may be the last time an Indian middle order consisting of Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman will be batting together in South Africa. A couple of these may have to average more than 50 with the bat if India have to register totals in excess of 400 runs.
Watch out for:
- Shanthakumaran Sreesanth: The right armer may benefit with Zaheer Khan bowling from the other end. He is a genuine wicket-taker and South Africa will be aware of his performance in the last tour, as he took five scalps.
- Virender Sehwag: Virender Sehwag’s natural approach to score runs at a fast pace may stun the Proteas.He may come with a revised plan to counter the new bowl attack of Steyn and Morkel.
- Sachin Tendulkar: The most comfortable batsman at Centurion in both the innings, went past the three figures a record 50th time. The Indian batsman will need to draw from his experience, without getting bogged down. Also, he is within striking distance of breaking Pakistan’s Mohammmad Yuosuf’s 1768 runs in a calendar year as he is stationed at 1543 runs.
South Africa will look to pocket the series in Durban on the back of an in-form batting outfit well complemented by their bowling attack.
- The opening combination of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel gave plenty of headaches accounting for 14 Indian wickets at Centurion and skipper Graeme Smith will feel confident of his side’s chances with a greenish tinge on the pitch.
- All five top batsmen in the Proteas camp scored runs and utilised the flat pitch well to post a mamoth total in Centurion. Importantly, they maintained a healthy run rate of four runs an over
Lonwabo Tsotsobe had an ordinary game taking one for 148 leaking runs and unable to find the right line and length. It would be interesting to see if Tsotsobe will make way for 27-year-old Ryan McLaren or young Wayne Parnell who played his last Test in India earlier this year.
Watch out for:
Jacques Kallis: After getting the elusive double hundred at Centurion, Kallis may prove to be thorn again for the Indians, as he has scored 1124 runs at Durban with four centuries. He is the anchorman and the South African batsman stitch vital partnerships with Kallis as fulcrum.
Dale Steyn: Steyn relishes bowling to Indian batsman, having claimed 39 wickets in eight Tests, at less than 20 runs per scalp. With two match-winning hauls to boot, Steyn is all set to throw the kitchen sink at the visitors in the second Test at Durban
Hashim Amla: Hashim Amla will play his fiftieth Test at Durban and doesn’t look like getting out. Having already scored 1200 runs in this year so far with five tons, Amla is in the form of his life. The Indians will have to devise a customised plan for dismiss Hashim Amla.