SA in West Indies
Proteas eye Windies series win
St Kitts - South Africa look set to continue their dominance over West Indies in Tests, and formalise another Test series victory, when the second Test opens on Friday at Warner Park.
The South Africans lead the three-match series 1-0, after they completed a 163-run victory inside four days in the opening Test last Sunday at Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad.
The Proteas have not lost a Test series against the Windies, since a 52-run defeat in Barbados 18 years ago marked their return to Tests, following isolation from international cricket.
South Africa captain Graeme Smith wants to keep this proud record in place, and land a victory that would also help to keep his team in the No 1 position in Tests.
"I am sure the West Indies are very frustrated," said Smith after the first Test. "We knew that our ability to maintain pressure on them was going to be tested, and we were able to do what we wanted to do, and that was to keep our foot on their heads."
For West Indies, expectations are much lower but it is hard to see from where the inspiration will come, and their captain Chris Gayle is well aware of the challenge that confronts them.
"We are looking forward to the Test, where we know we have to look for a victory and stay in the series," said Gayle.
"As I said before the start of the series, it won't be easy for us. The South Africans are an experienced team, and they are playing well at the moment. But we have to believe in ourselves and play good, hard cricket."
South Africa are not likely to tinker with their line-up, although a few of the bowlers, particularly Dale Steyn, looked a little sore towards the end of the Test in Port of Spain.
But the extra day of rest may be just the tonic they needed to recover.
"Freshness is the key for us now, particularly from a bowling perspective," said Smith.
"Before the first Test, we spoke about the fact that we were going to be tested, not having played Test cricket for quite a while.
"In a three-Test series the next match is just as crucial. We can't afford to take our foot off the gas at all."
Smith has also defended the South Africans' decision to play just one spin bowler in the first Test, with Test newcomer Lonwabo Tsotsobe being selected ahead of a second spinner, off-break bowler Johan Botha.
"Around the world, we've been successful with the attack we've had, and each guy performed his role, so we have no complaints," he said.
West Indies have very few choices outside of the current squad, and have stuck with the same group chosen for the first Test.
Ramnaresh Sarwan, Jerome Taylor, Adrian Barath, and Fidel Edwards are all sidelined with injury, and the A-Team is currently on tour of Britain, so the reserve stock is not readily available.
Surprisingly, fast bowler Kemar Roach has retained his place, after missing the first Test through injury, and so too, makeshift opener Travis Dowlin, whose scores of six and one hardly inspired confidence.
"We batted poorly in the first innings [of the first Test] and that actually cost us the game very quickly," said Gayle.
He added: "We are in the rebuilding process, and we asked a couple of batsmen to bat at positions they are not accustomed to, but it is something in cricket and, as batsmen, whenever you get a chance, you have to make the best use of it.
"But we are not going to use it as an excuse. We have to try and make the necessary adjustments for the Test match."
The small Warner Park boundaries, and typically easy-paced pitch should make for another high-scoring affair, like the only Test that has been played on the ground four years ago, when Brian Lara's West Indies drew with Rahul Dravid's India, after controlling the match for the most part.
With the series being contested in the opening month of the Caribbean's storm season, the weather is always a concern, and there was rain in the forecast.
West Indies (from):
Chris Gayle (captain), Dwayne Bravo (vice-captain), Sulieman Benn, Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Narsingh Deonarine, Travis Dowlin, Brendan Nash, Nelon Pascal, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Darren Sammy, Shane Shillingford
South Africa (from):
Graeme Smith (captain), Jacques Kallis (vice-captain), Hashim Amla, Johan Botha, Mark Boucher, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Paul Harris, Ryan McLaren, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Alviro Peterson, Ashwell Prince, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe