South Africa make solid start to third Test

April 11th, 2008 - 2:18 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Harbhajan Singh
(Lunch Report)
By Qaiser Mohammad Ali
Kanpur, April 11 (IANS) In a bid to win only their second Test series in India, South Africa made a strong start to the final Test against a depleted home side and were 80 for one wicket at lunch on the opening day here Friday. At the break, captain Graeme Smith was batting on 31 and Hashim Amla on 11.

Smith, who won a crucial toss, and Neil McKenzie provided a 61-run platform for the opening wicket on a Green Park pitch that has been prepared with the specific purpose of helping the Indian spinners.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni acted as India’s Test captain as well after Anil Kumble was ruled out of the match with a groin injury.

With South Africa leading the series 1-0 after their big win in the second Test in Ahmedabad, India are relying on spinners Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla, who replaced Kumble in the XI, to win and draw the series.

Dhoni’s move to introduce spin as early as the ninth over was a testimony to the Indians’ reliance on the slow bowlers. Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh replaced Sreesanth and Dhoni brought in leg-spinner Chawla for a fit-again Ishant Sharma for a double spin attack.

But neither the spinners nor the pitch seems to have troubled the resolute South Africans as Smith, McKenzie and Amla showed steely determination and good temperament as their team chased only their second Test series win in India. South Africa had won both Tests in 2000 to win the series.

Earlier, India made three changes in the XI that lost the second Test by an innings and 90 runs. Kumble, Irfan Pathan and Rudra Pratap Singh were replaced by Sharma, Yuvraj Singh and Chawla.

South Africa made no changes to the winning XI.

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