SA hold psychological edge over India

South Africa hold the psychological edge going into the second Test on Thursday against an India team weighed down by major fitness issues.

The visitors will look to drive home their confidence of tackling the hosts’ experienced spin bowlers after rallying to draw the first match of the three-Test series, which ended on Sunday.

India will be without talismanic batsman Sachin Tendulkar because of a groin injury, while a final decision on the fitness of captain Anil Kumble will be taken on Wednesday.

Left-arm seamer Rudra Pratap Singh went wicketless and looked way below his best on his return from injury.

It is unclear if young fast bowler Ishant Sharma, out of action with a foot injury since returning from Australia, will recover in time to play.

The tourists amassed almost 900 runs in the Chennai match, while India’s Virender Sehwag smashing his second career Test triple hundred.

The visitors more than held their own against the potent spin duo of Kumble and Harbhajan Singh, who took eight wickets, batting with purposefulness on a benign pitch.

Turning track

South Africa skipper Graeme Smith expects his batsmen to play equally well in Ahmedabad despite the likelihood a turning track.

“In terms of our capabilities against spin, our techniques and game plans are pretty sound,” Smith told reporters after the first Test.

“We’ve probably surprised a few of you. We’ve generally proven we can play it [spin] well,” the left-handed opener added.

South Africa are chasing a subcontinent treble after winning a Test series in Pakistan last year and in Bangladesh in March.

South Africa’s top order fired in Chennai where opener Neil McKenzie and Hashim Amla scored centuries and Smith cracked 73.

Equally impressive was the fightback by their bowlers, spearheaded by Dale Steyn, who took four of the last five wickets to restrict India’s first innings lead to 87 after Sehwag’s blitz and Rahul Dravid’s composed century.

But the middle order is yet to fire, especially Jacques Kallis, who, although usually South Africa’s best player of spin, fell cheaply in both innings.

While Kumble agreed that the touring side have adapted well to the subcontinent conditions, he said he fancied India’s chances of bowling the visitors out twice.

“We definitely have the potential to ensure we take wickets on any surface,” Kumble said. “Going into Ahmedabad and Kanpur, we definitely fancy our chance of doing that.”

Either Yuvraj Singh or the recalled Mohammad Kaif is expected to replace Tendulkar.—Reuters

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