More rains for India at Port Elizabeth

Published: Tuesday, November 13, 2001, 22:55 [IST]
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Port Elizabeth: There was no end to the Indian cricket team's frustration, with rain following the Indians to this coastal city as they arrived here a day in advance for the second Test match against South Africa starting on Friday.Following the abandonment of their four-day game against South Africa in East London due to rains, the Indians, who reached here last night, were planning hectic practice here for the next two days but little seems to be going their way. With a nine-wicket thrashing in the first Test still fresh in their minds, the Indians once again look destined to face the hosts without any preparation as they bid to overcome many unhappy moments at St George's Park and keep the interest alive in the three-match series. Over this weekend, India would be looking to overturn a series of setbacks at the country's oldest Test venue, the most recent being a sensational 70-run loss to Kenya in the triangular One-day tournament that preceded the Test series. It was an upset of such proportions that the International Cricket Council's Anti- Corruption Unit sent for videos of the match to trace any evidence of wrong-doing. Though nothing more has been said about that match, implying all actions were above board, it still leaves the Indians with a rather undistinguished record at this venue. India first visited Port Elizabeth in 1992-93, on a historic tour. It was dubbed the 'Friendship Tour' but the second One-day International here was anything but friendly. In an ill-tempered match, marked by the run-out of non-striker Peter Kirsten by Kapil Dev before the Indian delivered the ball, South Africa comfortably eased its way past India's lowly 147 to win by six wickets. Just about a fortnight later, the two teams were back at this venue for the Christmas Test where speedster Alan Donald produced one of his many match-winning performances for South Africa. As fellow Free State cricketer Hansie Cronje led the batting exploits with a brilliant 135, Donald took 12 wickets in the match to help South Africa win the only game of the series that produced a result. Four years later, on its second visit to this country, India played out a draw with Eastern Province in a tour game before suffering another defeat in the One-day Internationals. It was almost a repeat of the earlier encounter, with the Indians scoring 179 and South Africa romping home with six wickets in hand. This summer, it was not South Africa but Kenya who the Indians faced in the One-day Internationals but result was the same. And here they come again for the second Test, seeking redemption. But it's a real daunting task ahead of India as it tries to stop South Africa's victory march. Since 1998, when it lost to England in England, the South Africans have won nine out of 10 Test series, the only exception being the 1-1 draw in Sri Lanka last year. It's a record the hosts are eager to extend over this weekend, which would remove the pressure off them in the final Test in Centurion Park from November 23 to 27.

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