Benoni (Johannesburg): The visiting Indian's would face their first real test of strength when they take on a battery of fast bowlers in the match against South Africa 'A' on Wednesday.With almost all the Indian batsmen getting a decent hit in the carnival match against Nicky Oppenheimer XI at Randjesfontein on Monday, the visitors would obviously be in a positive frame of mind. Wednesday's game would give the Indian's an opportunity to test their skills on a fast and bouncy turf against some quality fast bowling of up-and-coming South African stars. Even with the late withdrawal of Eastern Province's Mfuneko Ngam, the band of Northern's captain Gerald Dros, Jon Kent, Boland swing bowler Charl Langeveld and international reject Roger Telemachus is expected to scrutinise Indian batsmen closely. Having already seen Mornantu Hayward, Albie Morkel and Garnett Krugger in Monday's match, the Indian's would thus have seen almost the entire crop of South Africa reserve pace talent ahead of the triangular One-day series starting on Friday. For the Indians, the inclusion of Shiv Sunder Das in the One-day squad should be a healthy proposition. The diminutive Orissa youngster played a fine innings of 59 on Monday before retiring and it is a tribute to his relentless quest for improvement that he has eased into the One-day format too. Another good knock on Wednesday could see him making his One-day debut in the tri- series. It was nice to see every Indian batsman having a profitable stay in the middle on Monday. Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, two of the most successful Indian batsmen on South Africa pitches, helped themselves to good scores and even captain Saurav Ganguly, who has been woefully short of runs for some time, timed the ball well in his 34-run knock. The Indian bowlers, who went for a hammering on the batsmen friendly track on Monday, would get a more helpful pitch on Wednesday and they would surely like to get into a rhythm before the One-dayers. Anil Kumble on Monday showed the long lay-off from international cricket had not rusted his talent at all and the exciting prospect of his bowling in tandem with off spinner Harbhajan Singh might be opted for Wednesday. The hosts have suffered a setback with the pull out of Ngam who made his debut against New Zealand last year. He had a shoulder surgery earlier this year and was wrapped in the proverbial cotton wool ever since. Ngam bowls with great pace, on occasions clocking 150 kmph, and also has the ability to swing the ball both ways. It is understood that Ngam, who has fought his way back from leg and back stress fractures, and a damaged shoulder in recent years, was included in Wednesday's team by the national selectors without sufficient consultation with the medical team supervising his rehabilitation. South African national squad physiotherapist Craig Smith would not confirm this, but said he was keen that Ngam should play a few four-day games for his province before returning to the top level. "It makes no sense to risk him in a One-day game now, when his future is pretty much seen in the Test arena. He might be fit, but there is the matter of confidence and comfort, which he can get by coming through a couple of four-day provincial games first," said Smith. The array of fast bowlers thrown at the Indians is aimed at checking the nuts and bolts of visitors' batting machine ahead of the triangular series. Viewed from another perspective, it is also aimed at giving critical exposure to several players trying to break into what has looked like an impregnable national squad. Boeta Dippenaar, Justin Kemp and Justin Ontong, all part of the national squad, are also in the team. "We not only want the players to remain match-fit, we also want to ensure that South Africa field its strongest possible 'A' side against India," declared Rushdie Magiet, the convenor of national selectors. Kemp has battled to establish a regular place in a team, which already has three world class all-rounder's in Shaun Pollock, Jacques Kallis and Lance Klusener. Bowling at a useful pace and landing the ball on the spot just about every time, Kemp - a big man who also hits the ball a long way - is said to be the one who is keeping Klusener on his toes. The concern for higher honours is no less genuine for batsmen. Western Province left- hander Graeme Smith who made 54 against tourists on Monday has started to wonder if he would ever get a chance given the exploits of Gary Kirsten.
Read more about: sachin tendulkar, cricket, rahul dravid, anil kumble, albie morkel, shiv sunder das, captain saurav ganguly, orissa, off spinner harbhajan singh, jon kent, south africa a, roger telemachus, randjesfontein, mornantu hayward, nicky oppenheimer xi, eastern provinces mfuneko ngam, northerns captain gerald dros, physiotherapist craig smith, boland swing bowler charl langeveld, garnett krugger triangular oneday series