cricket-news

India need bowlers and batsmen to fire against South Africa

Johannesburg, Dec 17 : For India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni the concern on the eve of the first cricket Test against South Africa here at the Wanderers was his bowlers and not his misfiring batsmen.


Dhoni feels the most crucial thing for the World No.2 side will be to take 20 wickets against the World No.1 team.

"One of the most crucial things will be to bowl well," said Dhoni here at the Wanderers.

Dhoni tried to take the pressure off his batsmen, but had to admit that his team has to do a bit of both -- score runs and take 20 wickets.

"To win Test matches, of course, you need to score runs but you also need to take 20 wickets. It's a bit of both, whatever we start first it will fire the confidence of the other department," said Dhoni.

Despite suffering humiliation in the three ODI series, that South Africa won 2-0, Dhoni has no other option but to show confidence in his young side, that will be carrying the hope and aspirations of fans back home in the post-Tendulkar era.

Dhoni admitted that the team has to move on after last month's retirement of Sachin Tendulkar. He is not concerned about the lack of experience among his batsmen.

Against a fiery South African attack, led by Dale Steyn, who has promised a barrage of aggressive bowling, it will be a real test for the Indian batsmen.

The track at the Wanderers will have a lot of bounce and also plenty of runs. India have been undefeated here and the first of two Tests, they have won in South Africa, came in 2006.

Also the return of veteran fast bowler Zaheer Khan will stand in good stead for the team. Zaheer has a good record against South African Test captain Graeme Smith, who is going through a poor run with the bat.

Zaheer had his tongue firmly in his cheek when he said he just needs "to turn up" on the field to make Smith his bunny again. Past records speak for Zaheer, who has dismissed Smith 13 time in 25 international matches on all formats.

Smith, however, is not losing his sleep on Zaheer's return.

"I've had enough battles with bowlers over the years. It's another wonderful opportunity to front up to an outstanding bowler," he said.

Dhoni indicated that Zaheer may play his first international match in 12 months but the team would be finalised only Wednesday morning.

Smith, however, announced his eleven. Hashim Amla will be back to the opening slot in place of Dean Elgar, who was part of the side that beat Pakistan by an innings in Dubai in October. Amla had to miss that match because he had flown home to be with his wife for the birth of his second child.

Teams:
South Africa: Graeme Smith (captain), Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers (wicketkeeper), Jean Paul Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir.

India (from): Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain/wicketeeper), Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ravindra Jadeja, Zaheer Khan, Ambati Rayudu, Wriddhiman Saha (wicketkeeper), Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ojha.

--IANS (Posted on 17-12-2013)

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