South Africa and India drew their first Test of two in epic style with the home side salvaging a draw from the jaws of defeat. With the series spoils still up for grabs, it's all to play for in Durban in the Boxing Day Test.
What: South Africa vs. India, second Test
Venue: Kingsmead, Durban
Date: Wednesday, December 26-30, 2013
Start time: 08:30 GMT, 10:30 SAST
TV Info: SuperSport2
Weather: Accuweather reckons there will be a few interruptions from Mother Nature for this Test with rain most likely on Day 2. Durban rain tends to be far more persistent than anywhere else in the country so if it does rain, it's likely to go on for quite some time, meaning teams will have to think more carefully about their strategy.
The first Test between South Africa and India is likely to go down as one of the most epic in the history of the game. It really had everything and even though it resulted in a draw, there was rarely a dull moment. India's batsmen proved they can adapt to the fierce conditions in South Africa while their bowlers showed they have the stamina to keep going. The pitch was perfect and the whole match was an intriguing contest between bat and ball. It will be hard to top, but with the series up for grabs teams will most likely go at it much harder.
South Africa have one selection niggle to consider. Morne Morkel picked up a nasty injury, twisting his ankle and leaving him unable to bowl for the second innings of the Test. Kyle Abbott has been added to the squad as cover and will most likely play in Durban if Morkel fails to recover in time.
Abbott has taken eight wickets in three first-class games this season at an average of 13.00 and when he made his debut against Pakistan earlier this year, he was impressive with 9-for-68 in the match. His ability to swing the ball and generate a good amount of pace makes him an astute replacement.
Winning the series should be first priority for the hosts, and although they fell just eight runs short of making history and chasing the highest ever total in the history of the game, South Africa's decision to play it safe and go for a draw should not be a question for their character. They showed brilliant bottle to even get into a position where that was possible in the first place and, in the context of the series, avoiding defeat was more important than not being able to win the series.
For India, it's a chance to continue to prove they have what it takes to perform away from home. The hosts have a dubious record at Durban, having last won there in 2008 and losing their last four Tests there. That's exactly the kind of challenge this current Proteas side relishes, though, as they showed by saving the Test at the Wanderers. It's another chance for them to prove that rewriting history is exactly what they're good at.
Dale Steyn looked slightly off colour in the first Test. He was miles off his usual threatening self and took just one wicket in the first Test, despite helpful conditions. When Steyn does have an "off Test," though, he tends to bounce back in fine fashion and the Proteas will need him to do that as his usual feisty energy was very much missed.
Zaheer Khan's fitness was massively impressive in the first Test. Following his return from injury, Khan has showed that despite his age, he still has some juice left in the tank. His experience, commandeering the troops and guiding them was exemplary in the first game, and India will need more of the same from him to keep South Africa on the back foot in the second match.
Graeme Smith (capt), Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers (wk), JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Imran Tahir, Jacques Kallis, Rory Kleinveldt, Morne Morkel, Alviro Petersen, Robin Peterson, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Thami Tsolekile, Kyle Abbott
MS Dhoni (capt, wk), M Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ravindra Jadeja, Zaheer Khan, Ambati Rayudu, Wriddhiman Saha, Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ojha
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