India in SA
Morkel to spice it up for India
Centurion - South African fast bowler Morne Morkel said on Tuesday that he was looking forward to bowling against India's star-studded batting line-up on his home ground when the first Test starts at Centurion on Thursday.
Morkel said he and new ball partner Dale Steyn had both played most of their first-class cricket at the SuperSport Park ground.
With cloud and some rain expected over the next few days they were anticipating helpful, overcast conditions in the clash between the top two ranked Test nations.
"Dale learnt his trade here and it is going to be special to be bowling with him on our home ground."
Morkel said the South Africans had huge respect for India's batsmen, with openers Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag forming a "very dangerous" combination.
"Not long ago Gautam was the number one batsman in the world and we all know how destructive Virender can be against the new ball," he said.
Morkel acknowledged that most of the top Indians had become accustomed to playing in South African conditions because of their involvement in Indian Premier League and Champions League tournaments in the country.
He also said the involvement of former South African batsman Gary Kirsten as India's coach was a big benefit for the tourists.
"He's got all the insights in how to play on South African wickets, and Gary being with them preparing for the past week will have been a great help for them."
But he warned that it would still be much tougher for India's batsmen than when they played at home.
"It's a contest we are looking forward to. We all know that on South African wickets the ball tends to bounce a little bit longer where in India we only have five overs or so (to strike) with the new ball."
Although the Centurion pitch has not been as helpful to fast bowlers in recent years as it was before, Morkel cited his only domestic first-class match for the Titans this season.
"We asked for a nice quick wicket and we bowled out the Warriors for 70. The pace and bounce was very good for the first three days, but later it became a good deck."
Batsman Ashwell Prince agreed with Morkel that conditions were likely to be helpful for fast bowlers.
"The weather forecast is not good and as long as there is rain about there will be moisture in the pitch. We are expecting the ball to do a bit."
Prince said the South Africans respected the Indian bowling unit.
"Their fast bowlers normally do very well in the sub-continent, which doesn't support fast bowling, so we expect them to do well in conditions that help them."
He said off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was likely to take encouragement from the fact that England's Graeme Swann had done well in a series in South Africa last season.
"Swann is now ranked the number one spinner in the world and I am sure Harbhajan will want to say something about that."
The fact that India were ranked number one and South Africa were second "builds the game up", Prince said.
He said that although batsmen might have to work hard for their runs, he said it was better for the team to be playing in conditions where the bowlers had a good chance to take 20 wickets.