India hopes to perform better in Test series

Published: Sunday, October 28, 2001, 22:18 [IST]
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Chatsworth (South Africa): With the focus shifting from One-day cricket to the Test series, the Indians were gearing themselves up to provide a greater challenge to the home side as they go into the three-day match against South Africa 'A' starting in Chatsworth from Monday.This being the only practice game ahead of the first Test at Bloemfontein from November 3, the primary concern for the Indians was to give vital match practice to the new members of the squad. Thus, Connor Williams, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra and Sameer Dighe, who joined the team for the Test series, were put through the paces at the Kingsmead, Durban, even though the others took a day off from practice. These four, and V V S Laxman, who was called for the last two One-day matches, are a certainty for the match while captain Saurav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid have opted out. Team management said Dravid had gone to Cape Town for a scan on his shoulder but stressed it was only a precautionary measure and the Indian vice-captain was not injured. Baroda's Williams, who has come as an opener in place of the injured Sadagopan Ramesh, would be eagerly watched as he braces himself for his first major international assignment. Williams and Shiv Sunder Das, who couldn't make much of the opportunity provided in the One-dayers, would be vital to India's interests as a solid partnership from them would almost be a pre-requisite to a good total on these fast and bouncy tracks. Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra, returning to the side after recovering from leg injuries, inspire high hopes for the beleaguered Indians. For Dighe too, it is another chance to show his utility and make sure he is given preference ahead of Deep Dasgupta. Apart from Ganguly and Dravid, the Indians are also sure to rest Javagal Srinath and Ajit Agarkar from this game. From the host team, only fast bowler Charl Langeveldt has found a place in the South African Test squad but there were quite a few promising players waiting to make an impression. The selection of freak left-arm spinner Paul Adams is an interesting choice as it indicates the options South Africa is looking to bolster its bowling attack in the absence of Allan Donald and Mofunenko Ngam, both of whom are injured. Besides Langeveldt, One-day regulars Andre Nel and Justin Kemp are also in the team. Indians would particularly remember Jacques Rudolph who cracked a hundred in the opening game of the tour for Nicky Oppenheimer's XI at Randjestfontein. Likewise, Graeme Smith and Martin van Jaarsveld had notched up impressive scores in a One-day practice game against the Indians at Benoni. Situated 15 km outside Durban, the Indians are sure to find a lot of support at this place where the notorious Group Areas Act of early 1960s had herded people of Indian origin after uprooting them from all parts of Kwa Zulu-Natal. It is seen as a Mecca for cricket development in Natal and has hosted quite a few international matches against the touring sides. Extras:
'I've no clue to repeated failures'
Final jinx continues to haunt India
Ganguly tops batting averages in tri series

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