Preview: Ind v SA- 1st Test
The first Test of a three match series between the top two Test teams in the world.
December 16-20, 2010. The game begins at 2 pm, IST.
SuperSport Park, Centurion
Purists couldn’t have asked for anything better. When the top two teams in Test cricket fight it out, the context automatically acquires significance as the challenger (South Africa) looks to dethrone the champion (India).
Since the two match series played between the two sides in India earlier this year, which resulted in a 1-1 draw, both teams have done reasonably well in the Test arena. India first drew a series away with Sri Lanka (1-1), then retained hold of the Border Gavaskar Trophy by vanquishing the visiting Australians 2-0 and most recently inflicted a 1-0 defeat on a below par New Zealand side that toured India.
South Africa, too, have had quite a decent run since February. In June, while touring the West Indies, they beat the hosts 2-0 in a three match series but could only muster a drawn result (0-0) in the two match series played against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates in November 2010.
India’s main concern ahead of the start of this match is the availability of Zaheer Khan. The left-arm seamer has been hampered by a hamstring injury that saw him bowl only eight overs in the fourth ODI against New Zealand in Bengaluru. Should Zaheer not play, it is most likely that India will look to play either Umesh Yadav or Jaidev Unadkat instead of a second spinner in Pragyan Ojha. The batsmen pick themselves with Suresh Raina almost a certainty for the number six position ahead of Cheteshwar Pujara.
South Africa have named only a twelve man squad for the first Test, and chances are that Ryan McLaren should get the third seamer’s position in the lineup ahead of Lonwabo Tsotsobe. Paul Harris will be the only spinner played by the Proteas. Captain Graeme Smith, who is recovering from a fractured ring finger on his left hand - an injury he suffered during the second Test against Pakistan in the UAE, should be available to play in all likelihood.
Tests v India in South Africa since 1991: 12, Won by South Africa: 6, Won by India: 1, Drawn: 5
South Africa at Centurion: Played 15, Won 11, Lost 1, Drawn 3
India at Centurion: Played 0
Highest total in a single innings at Centurion: South Africa 604/6 declared (1st innings) v West Indies – January 16, 2004
Lowest total in a single innings at Centurion: Sri Lanka 119 (2nd innings) v South Africa – January 20, 2001
Best individual score in an innings at Centurion: Herschelle Gibbs 192 (South Africa) v West Indies – January 16, 2004
Best bowling figures in an innings at Centurion: Monde Zondeki 14.3-2-39-6 (South Africa) v Zimbabwe – March 11, 2005
The Teams (probable playing XIs):
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c & wk), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Suresh Raina Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan/Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma and S Sreesanth.
South Africa: Graeme Smith (c), Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, Ashwell Prince, Mark Boucher (wk), Ryan McLaren, Paul Harris, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.