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Saturday, January 20, 2018

India seek 'intent' to combat South Africa speed kings

Saturday, 13 January 2018 12:00
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CENTURION, January 12: Indian captain Virat Kohli wants his batsmen to "show intent" when they come up against South Africa's fast bowlers again in the second Test starting at Centurion on Saturday.

"You can't just stand there and take whatever is coming your way and not have intent," Kohli said after his team were beaten by 72 runs in the first Test in Cape Town.

"You might get out but it's important to keep coming at the bowler and making them feel, 'if you make an error I am going to score."

With conditions at Centurion again likely to favour fast bowling, the problem for India is not just how they should execute Kohli's strategy -- but who should do it.

No Indian top-order batsman made more than 28 in either innings in Cape Town. The only two scores above 30 were 93 by Hardik Pandya in the first innings and 37 by Ravichandran Ashwin in the second.

Pandya and Ashwin were batting at number seven and eight respectively, which suggests India have enough depth in their batting order -- if their top-order players can get themselves through the new ball.

At least two batting positions will be debated as the tourists seek a way to play themselves back into the three-Test series.

Left-handed opener Shikhar Dhawan fell to short-pitched deliveries in both innings and there is an argument for Lokesh Rahul to take his place, while Ajinkya Rahane must be a contender to replace Rohit Sharma at number five.

Faf du Plessis surprised by brown pitch

South African captain Faf du Plessis was surprised to see brown grass on the pitch that will be used for the second Test against India, starting at SuperSport Park on Saturday.

Du Plessis said he expected pace and bounce but admitted he was not sure how the pitch would play.

"It looks browner than I thought it would be," he said. "What I got from the groundsman was that it was burnt from the heat. Last week was very hot."

Although Centurion is Du Plessis' home ground, he said the pitch looked unusual. "There is a thick layer of brown grass so it's not something we're used to seeing. For us at the moment it's unknown." Du Plessis said he expected India to mount a strong challenge.  (AFP)


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