South Africa captain banking on spinners to beat India

March 22nd, 2008 - 6:46 pm ICT by admin  

Chennai, March 22 (IANS) South Africa captain Graeme Smith said Saturday that he was banking on his two left-arm spinners to do the trick on slow and turning Indian pitches in the three-match Test cricket series starting here Wednesday. “Spinners hold the key on the sub-continent wickets. We have in Paul Harris and Robin Peterson, two genuine turners. Hopefully they will do the task entrusted to them,” Smith said at a press conference after arriving here with his team.

Harris, 29, is a not-so-experienced left-arm spinner with 30 wickets in 10 Tests and three in three One-Day Internationals. He returns after missing the two Tests in Bangladesh because of minor surgery.

Peterson, 28, has played mostly in ODIs and has bagged 17 wickets in 35 matches and another 15 in six Tests.

Smith, who along with Neil McKenzie recently scored a world-record 415 runs for the opening wicket in a Test against Bangladesh, said it would be a challenge to dismiss the strong Indian batting line-up twice inside five days.

“Indians have a strong batting line-up which is perhaps the best in the world,” he said.

“The real test lies in picking up 20 wickets in each match. I am confident that our young and energetic bowlers will accomplish the task. Being professionals, we should overcome it and face the battle on field.”

Smith did not seem overly worried about the Indian team’s advantage due to the presence of former South African batsman Gary Kirsten and Paddy Upton as coach and mental conditioning coach. This will be the first full-fledged series as coach for former left-handed opener Kirsten, though he was with the team for a short while in Australia.

“Gary and Paddy are history. They know the general methods our team adopts all right. But then, our team has evolved,” he said.

Creases of worry clouded Smith’s countenance when questioned about the controversy over mixed-race pace bowler Charl Langeveldt, who was named in the 14-member squad but pulled out.

Smith said that the team would overcome his absence and that of Shaun Pollock, who has retired from international cricket.

“Charl wanted to get selected on merit and not on the basis of race. We will miss him and Shaun quite a bit. But Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel will trouble the Indian openers,” he said.

“Harris and Petersen will be a handful as well.”

Smith took the sledging controversy in India’s recent tour of Australia lightly.

“As a team, we believe in playing fighting cricket but as best examples of sportsmanship. We are here to win, but we are also sure that the game will be the bigger winner,” he maintained.

The second and third Tests will be played in Ahmedabad and Kanpur.

Squad: Graeme Smith (Captain), Ashwell Prince (Vice-Captain), Hashim Amla, Mark Boucher, A.B. de Villiers, J.P. Duminy, Paul Harris, Jacques Kallis, Neil McKenzie, Morne Morkel, Makhaya Ntini, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn.

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