India, SA square off against terror backdrop

India and South Africa enter the third and final Test on Friday with the series on the line, and having to deal with the threat of a reported terrorist plot against the match, which is being played in Kanpur.

Security was bolstered after police sources said that they had intelligence of a planned attack in the northern Indian city by Islamic terrorists.

Despite the threat, both teams must attempt to concentrate fully on a game that will decide the series. South Africa lead 1-0 after two Tests, the series opener having being drawn and the Proteas winning the second by an innings and 90 runs—India’s heaviest home defeat since 1959.

The dry surface of the Green Park Stadium’s pitch was already displaying cracks on Thursday on the eve of the Test, bringing smiles to the Indian team, who expect the drying track to aid its spinners while negating South Africa’s in-form seamers.

South Africa, who are one of two teams to have defeated India in a home series in the past decade, will move to number two behind Australia in the Test rankings if they can avoid defeat in Kanpur.

By dominating India in the second Test—including bowling them out for a dismal 76 in the first innings—Graeme Smith’s side has eroded India’s morale. But skipper Anil Kumble expects his home side to hit back.

“We have always come back strongly when pushed against the wall; we are hoping to do that again over the next five days,” said Kumble, who remains a doubtful starter due to a lingering groin injury.

Kumble joined his teammates for training on Thursday, with a decision on his fitness to be made on Friday morning.

The fitness of pace spearhead Ishant Sharma was also a concern for India, but he was declared fit after an extensive workout in the nets on Thursday.
Sharma has not played since the tour of Australia ended two months ago.

India was considering fielding three spinners.

As well as being India’s biggest home defeat since 1959, the second Test loss was their heaviest defeat in the past eight years.—Sapa-AP

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