In­dia eye se­ries win as Steyn ruled out again

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

NAG­PUR: In­dia will start as favourites to wrap up the se­ries af­ter South Africa’s pace spear­head Dale Steyn was side­lined again for the third Test which starts in Nag­pur to­day. In­dia lead the four-match se­ries 1-0 af­ter win­ning the first Test in Mo­hali in­side three days be­fore rain washed out the last four days of the drawn sec­ond match in Ban­ga­lore.

With an­other dry, spin-friendly pitch laid at the VCA sta­dium on the out­skirts of Nag­pur, the topranked Proteas are in real dan­ger of los­ing their nine-year un­beaten se­ries record on for­eign soil. South African cap­tain Hashim Amla con­firmed that Steyn will not take field, say­ing his premier fast bowler had not re­cov­ered from the groin strain he suf­fered in Mo­hali.

“Not hav­ing Dale in the team is a set­back be­cause not hav­ing the ser­vices of the best bowler in the world is never a nice thing,” he said. “But we’ve got to deal with it and, hope­fully, the guys who play will get a chance to stand out.”

When South Africa played a Test in Nag­pur in 2010, Steyn picked up a 10-wicket haul, in­clud­ing a ca­reer-best 7-57 in the first in­nings, to fash­ion his team’s em­phatic win by an in­nings and six runs. In­dian cap­tain Vi­rat Kohli, how­ever, in­sisted Steyn’s ab­sence will not make a dif­fer­ence to his team’s prospects. “We have faced him enough times in the past and we have scored enough runs against him,” he said. “We treat ev­ery bowler the same way. Some­one else might step up, so you can’t take any­one lightly.”

‘Hope­fully runs will come’

Amla’s own poor form with the bat will worry the tourists af­ter he made 43 and 0 in the first Test and seven in the rain-ru­ined sec­ond game in Ban­ga­lore. “I definitely would have liked to have got more runs in the se­ries,” said Amla, who hit an un­beaten 253, the sec­ond high­est of his 23 three­fig­ure knocks in Test cricket, in Nag­pur five years ago. “Hope­fully, the runs are still to come. We’ve got two big Test matches to deal with.” 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 to fall in three in­nings so far. “We have not played our best cricket,” Amla said as the tourists limped to 184 and 109 in Mo­hali and made

214 on the first day at Ban­ga­lore.

‘Not pleas­ant to face our spin­ners’

Kohli said he was re­lieved at not hav­ing to face his own spin­ners, Ash­win, Jadeja and Amit Mishra, who have wreaked havoc with the South African bat­ting. “If I was play­ing against them, I would find it really dif­fi­cult to score off them,” he said. “I am sure it is not pleas­ant fac­ing the three of them.” Kohli in­sisted too much was be­ing made of the dry, brown pitch that will aid spin as the match goes on. “I don’t know why there is so much of hue and cry about wick­ets in In­dia,” he said. “We have ab­so­lutely no prob­lem in play­ing on wick­ets given to us.” Amla, asked about the pitch, said: “It looks like a good cricket wicket, one that we kind of ex­pect in the sub-con­ti­nent.” The South African cap­tain said his team’s dream of win­ning the se­ries was not over yet, but they still needed to win at Nag­pur to set up the de­cider in Delhi from De­cem­ber 3. “It’s a must-win game for us if we are to win the se­ries,” he said. “The is­sue has been more with the lack of runs than the lack of wick­ets. Hope­fully, we’ll get the runs too.” — AFP

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