Amla key as S Africa eye come­back in In­dia

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

NAG­PUR: Hashim Amla re­turns to the scene of a per­sonal tri­umph look­ing to re­vive both his and South Africa’s for­tunes when the third Test against In­dia starts in Nag­pur tomorrow.

The Proteas cap­tain hit an un­beaten 253, the sec­ond high­est of his 23 three-fig­ure knocks in Test cricket, at the same VCA sta­dium on the out­skirts in Nag­pur in 2010. Fiery pace bowler Dale Steyn then picked up a 10-wicket haul in the same match, in­clud­ing a ca­reer-best 7-51 in the first in­nings, to fash­ion South Africa’s em­phatic win by an in­nings and six runs.

The top-ranked tourists, down 1-0 in the cur­rent four-match se­ries, will hope to recre­ate the same magic as they bat­tle to pre­serve their nineyear un­beaten se­ries record on for­eign soil.

The usu­ally pro­lific Amla has en­dured a lean se­ries so far, making 43 and 0 in the first Test in Mo­hali and seven in the rain-ru­ined sec­ond match in Ban­ga­lore. The scores are a far cry from Amla’s amaz­ing record in In­dia where in six pre­vi­ous Tests be­fore the cur­rent se­ries he had scored 823 runs at an av­er­age of 102.87 with four cen­turies.

Steyn’s avail­abil­ity re­mains un­cer­tain due to his slow re­cov­ery from a groin strain that he suf­fered in the first Test which forced him to miss the Ban­ga­lore match. With Kyle Ab­bott hav­ing al­ready re­placed the in­jured Ver­non Phi­lan­der, the tourists flew in fast bowler Marchant de Lange, who played the last of his two Tests way back in 2012, as cover for Steyn.

“At the mo­ment we only have three fit seam­ers in Morne Morkel, Kag­iso Rabada and Ab­bott,” said South African coach Rus­sell Domingo. “We want to be pre­pared in case one of the three breaks down.”

South Africa have been let down so far by their in­abil­ity to cope with In­dia’s spin twins, Ravichan­dran Ash­win and Ravin­dra Jadeja, who have equally shared 24 of the 30 wick­ets in three in­nings so far. The tourists limped to 184 and 109 in Mo­hali to lose by 108 runs in­side three days and scored 214 on the first day in Ban­ga­lore af­ter be­ing sent in to bat in over­cast con­di­tions.

‘Hope lessons learnt’

AB de Villiers is the only bats­man who ap­pears to have ad­justed to the turn­ing ball, making a top-score of 63 in Mo­hali and a stroke-filled 85 in Ban­ga­lore on his 100th Test ap­pear­ance.

When Amla’s men take the field on Wed­nes­day, it will be only their fifth day of in­ter­na­tional cricket over the past month, leav­ing them short of se­ri­ous match prac­tice. Domingo was, how­ever, con­fi­dent his team can turn the se­ries around in Nag­pur. “We’ve done it be­fore,” he said. “We know that we are still in the con­test with two matches to play and the wick­ets are definitely go­ing to pro­duce re­sults.

“We have a lot of in­ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers who have not played in In­dia be­fore so hope­fully they will have learnt a lot of lessons from th­ese first two matches.” In­dia, mean­while, are de­ter­mined to wrap up the se­ries af­ter see­ing their seven-Test win­ning streak at home be­ing bro­ken by the bad weather in Ban­ga­lore. Skip­per Vi­rat Kohli said the loss of four full play­ing days in the sec­ond Test had not af­fected ei­ther the morale or the mo­men­tum gained by his side.

“We are all in a very good space. I would like to give credit to the guys for stay­ing in the zone,” Kohli said. With the pitch ex­pected to be a slow turner, the hosts may ei­ther bring back leg-spin­ner Amit Mishra or hand a Test cap to rookie off­spin­ning all­rounder Gur­keerat Mann. —AFP PERTH: New Zealand are an­tic­i­pat­ing a bat­tle of tac­tics as they ven­ture into cricket’s new world in this week’s first-ever day-night third Test against Aus­tralia, coach Mike Hes­son said yes­ter­day.

The cricket world is watch­ing with in­ter­est as trans-Tas­man ri­vals Aus­tralia and New Zealand face off with a rev­o­lu­tion­ary pink ball at Ade­laide Oval from Fri­day. Za­heer Ab­bas, the new pres­i­dent of the In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil, hailed the day-night Test con­cept as “thor­oughly en­light­ened”.

The pink ball’s ca­pac­ity to swing freely and cre­ate col­lapses at night in prepara­tory matches means the fi­nal ses­sion of play has be­come more prob­lem­atic than the first two ses­sions. It leaves ri­val skip­pers Steve Smith and Bren­don McCul­lum with big de­ci­sions to make this week. Smith in­di­cated his think­ing when cap­tain­ing New South Wales in this sea­son’s day-night do­mes­tic Sh­effield Shield round by declar­ing on day one to utilise the swing of pace­man Mitchell Starc, who grabbed three wick­ets in the evening ses­sion with the aid of some not­i­ca­ble in­swingers. Hes­son said the clam­our to bowl at night could be a key bat­tle at Ade­laide. “There’s definitely some­thing to that (declar­ing to bowl at night),” he told re­porters. “If you think that’s the best chance to take a few early wick­ets. There’ll definitely be some tac­ti­cal plays through­out the Test.” New Zealand suf­fered a col­lapse of four for 30 in their two-day prac­tice tour match in Perth on Sun­day af­ter din­ner against Western Aus­tralia. The Black­caps’ bowlers had cre­ated havoc by swing­ing the sec­ond new ball in Satur­day’s night ses­sion with WA los­ing five for 21.—AFP

NAG­PUR: In­dia’s cap­tain Vi­rat Kohli (2R) drib­bles a foot­ball past team­mates dur­ing a train­ing ses­sion ahead of the third Test cricket match be­tween In­dia and South Africa at The Vi­darbha Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion Sta­dium in Nag­pur yes­ter­day. — AFP

BAN­GA­LORE: In this pho­to­graph taken on Novem­ber 13, 2015, South African cap­tain Hashim Amla throws a ball dur­ing the team’s net prac­tice ses­sion on the eve of the sec­ond Test cricket match be­tween In­dia and South Africa at The M. Chin­naswamy Sta­dium in Ban­ga­lore. — AFP

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