India eyeing historic Test series win against South Africa

Saturday, January 1, 2011

CAPE TOWN - India head into the final Test here Sunday with an eye to a historic series win in South Africa.

After a humiliating defeat in the Centurion Test, India did well to score surprise victory in Durban and levelled the series. And now they are on the verge of creating history against the Proteas.

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni knows that the win in Durban has boosted the confidence of the team and has made them believe that they can win a Test series in South Africa.

But Dhoni knows that India still need to be disciplined in all the three areas. Though the return of Zaheer Khan has strengthened the team’s bowling attack, its batting on South Africa’s bouncy pithes remains a concern as the batsmen flopped in both innings in Durban.

Though the track at the Newlands will help the batsmen, Dhoni said that playing on any South African track will be a challenge for the Indians.

Opening batsman Murali Vijay will make way for Gautam Gambhir, who missed the second Test after sustaining a finger injury. A good start by Gambhir and Virender Sehwag may make the difference for India. Shewag looked dangerous in the second innings in Durban and he will be due for a big one in Cape Town.

The focus will also be on Cheteshwar Pujara, who replaces an out of form Suresh Raina. After scores of 19 and 10 in Durban, he will be eager to prove that he can play big innings.

Indians will also be wary of their poor record at the Newlands. Out of the three Tests they have played here, they lost twice, by 282 runs in 1997 and by five wickets in 2007 and managed a draw in 1993.

South Africans are approaching the game as a fresh one.

“There’s a lot of talk about momentum, and it’s important, but it’s just there until the next game. We are approaching this game as starting fresh again, having the confidence of the previous win,” said coach Corrie Van Zyl.

The Test match will also be of significance for the two teams as both teams will be playing their last test under their respective coaches — South Africa under the guidance of Van Zyl and India under Gary Kirsten.

Van Zyl made it clear he will carry on as a caretaker coach till the World Cup as he is committed to Pretoria’s High Performance Programme while Kirsten also wants to return to his country after the World Cup in the sub-continent. Kirsten is also tipped to take over from Van Zyl.

Teams (from):

India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Captain), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, S. Sreesanth, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Wriddhiman Saha, Umesh Yadav, Jaidev Unadkat, Pragyan Ojha.

South Africa: Graeme Smith (Captain), Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, Ashwell Prince, Mark Boucher, Dale Steyn, Paul Harris, Morne Morkel, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Ryan McLaren, JP Duminy, Wayne Parnell.

will not be displayed