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India vs South Africa: Centurion Curator Called In at Cape Town to Prepare Green Top to Test Kohli & Co

Baidurjo Bhose |Cricketnext | Updated: January 5, 2018, 9:00 AM IST
India vs South Africa: Centurion Curator Called In at Cape Town to Prepare Green Top to Test Kohli & Co

The pitch being prepared at Cape Town ahead of South Africa's first Test against India (Image: News18)

Cape Town: When Cricket South Africa flew in SuperSports Park curator Bryan Bloy from Centurion to assist Newlands Stadium curator Evan Flint in preparing the wicket for the opening Test between India and South Africa in Cape Town from January 5, the writing was very much on the wall. Faf du Plessis and the boys mean business here and they wish to break Team India’s batting backbone right up front.

India skipper Virat Kohli has often spoken about the opening Test in a three-game series setting the tone for the remainder of the series and how it gets very difficult for teams to get back from the dungeons after losing the opening Test. And going by the looks of it, du Plessis plans to not just send the Indians to the dungeons, but wishes to do that in ruthless style.

Bloy is the chief curator at the SuperSport Park Stadium and the ground is considered to have one of the liveliest wickets in the Rainbow Nation. So, with Flint being troubled by drought, the move to get Bloy to assist him is a clear case of ensuring that the lack of water doesn’t hinder the South Africans’ plan of preparing a seaming wicket.

Speaking to CricketNext, a CSA official said that the idea was to create not just a fast wicket, but also one that has sideways movement (seam movement) as that is one area where the Indian team has failed to adapt in the last couple of years (like England), even as they have done decently in other countries like Australia and New Zealand.

“The boys don’t just want a fast wicket, they also want seam movement. The idea is to work on South Africa’s strength and India’s weakness. Bloy was flown in to assist Flint in his preparations. I would like to believe this is how modern-day cricket works with home teams playing to their strength. Remember the 2015 series between these two teams in India?” he smiled.

Interestingly, a study of the two venues shows why Bloy was indeed called in for assistance. In the last three Test matches in Cape Town, the pacers took 30 wickets in the last game between South Africa and Sri Lanka, 14 wickets in the second last Test between South Africa and England and 15 wickets in the third-last Test between South Africa and West Indies. A sum total sees pacers picking 59 wickets of the 81 wickets to fall. In fact, 13 of those 81 wickets went to spinners in the West Indies game.

Coming to Centurion, 32 wickets were picked by pacers in the last game between South Africa and New Zealand, 31 wickets in the second last game between South Africa and England and 20 wickets picked by the fast bowlers in the third-last game between South Africa and West Indies. The sum total at this venue shows pacers picking 83 of the 93 wickets to have fallen in the last three games at the venue. Clearly, this isn’t a move without calculations.

Also, even though local boy Vernon Philander did state that the team wasn’t looking at just Virat Kohli and they were playing against a team, there is no denying the fact that Kohli is the mainstay in this Indian unit and unfortunately, the only place where the current skipper hasn’t taken the bowling to the cleaners was in England against James Anderson on seaming wickets. While Kohli has evolved as a player since that tour, there is no denying the fact that Kohli still has a weakness against balls pitched just on and outside off.

It will be interesting to see if the Indians can stand up against the challenge from du Plessis because if they can, this team is definitely headed towards world domination in the true sense of the term.

First Published: January 5, 2018, 8:50 AM IST

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