Kanpur, Nov. 19 (NNN) : Ahead of the first of the two-Test series against South Africa, starting at Green Park Stadium here on Saturday, Indian coach John Wright said the pitch would help spinners.
"We have some class players in the side. They may not have been in peak form in the recent past but I am confident they will deliver," said Wright, a former New Zealand opener.
India lost a recent series 2-1 to give Australia their first Test series win in India in 35 years.
"That series is behind us and this pitch gives us confidence for the first match," said Wright. "We did not give any specific directions to the curators but just asked for a good Test wicket."
South Africa play their first Test series on Indian soil since winning both Tests on their last tour here in 2000 under the late Hansie Cronje. But the team is young and as many as 10 of them have not played Tests in India before, including 23-year-old skipper Graeme Smith.
Also, a side strain to experienced all-rounder Jacques Kallis, whose fitness will be ascertained on Friday, has aggravated their problems.
Kallis shares the major burden with Shaun Pollock after opener Herschelle Gibbs and spinner Nicky Boje withdrew from the tour fearing detention by police over match-fixing allegations. Others like Gary Kirsten, Allan Donald and Jonty Rhodes have retired while wicket-keeper Mark Boucher and all-rounder Lance Klusener, who have also played here, were not selected.
South African coach Ray Jennings said, "We are here to do our best. At the end of the Tests, we hope to have more positives than negatives and that we leave here after making an impression.”
India won their only previous Test series against South Africa in 1996. South Africa have won seven of 14 previous Tests between the two teams and lost two with the remaining five drawn. In India, they have won three Tests and lost two.
The teams for Saturday’s match are as follows:
India (from): Sourav Ganguly (capt), Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Venkatsai Laxman, Dinesh Karthik, Mohammad Kaif, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Murali Kartik, Irfan Pathan, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra.
South Africa (from): Graeme Smith (capt), Hashim Amla, Zander de Bruyn, Boeta Dippenaar, Andrew Hall, Jacques Kallis, Makhaya Ntini, Justin Ontong, Robin Peterson, Shaun Pollock, Jacques Rudolph, Thami Tsolekile, Alfonso Thomas, Martin van Jaarsveld.
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