India in SA

Smith, Amla cleared to play

2010-12-13 13:25
Graeme Smith (File)

Johannesburg - Proteas' captain Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla have been cleared to play for South Africa in the three-Test series against India starting at Centurion on Thursday.

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"Graeme’s hand is good. Doctors have cleared him and he’s ready to go," coach Corrie van Zyl said on Monday.

"He’s confident and looking forward to this week’s preparation. We just hope that we can get out there and prepare.

"Hashim seems to be fine and started his preparations last week," he said.

The ring finger on Smith's left hand was broken while batting in the first ODI against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates in November.

Amla was struck on the left wrist while fielding in the last day of the second Test against Pakistan.

Van Zyl said on Monday that he would be stupid to underestimate the Indian bowling attack even though they would be playing in less familiar conditions.

There has been much hype about the pace and bounce of the wickets in South Africa and how this will favour the South African seamers rather than the Indian bowling attack.

"We’re not going to give them turning tracks here. That’s not going to happen, but we would be stupid to underestimate the Indian bowlers," said Van Zyl.

"We’re going to play on wickets which are going to benefit our style of play, but it is one thing playing on them, it’s another thing executing."

India are ranked number one on the ICC's Test rankings, but have not yet won a Test series in South Africa.

Much is expected from players like Sachin Tendulkar, who will be seeking his 50th Test century on this tour; Rahul Dravid, who boasts a Test average of 53.31; and the aggressive Virender Sehwag, who averages 54.71.

Van Zyl said the South Africans are not focusing on these stars.

"It’s an excellent Indian team which comes to our shores, but as far as individuals are concerned, if you’re talking about a very good Indian team, then you can’t single out individuals.

"They’re not number one because of one individual, they’re number one because they’re a very good unit.

"If we’re going to look at one or two individuals we’re going to miss the boat here.

"We’re making sure that we’re not focused on one individual. We’re preparing for the whole Indian team," he said.

Pre-match preparations for the first Test have been marred by wet weather, which has made it difficult to practice outdoors.

"We put in place specific plans for all the players who weren’t involved in the MTN finals to work with their franchise coaches," said Van Zyl.

"The idea was that we wanted to have a week off after the Pakistan series to refresh, but at the same time also be ready for the practice week.

"Yesterday we got together and did the planning session and obviously we wanted to start working today, but it’s not happening the way we wanted it to happen (because of the weather)."

He said some members of the Indian team arrived last week and had been practising in Cape Town to familiarise themselves with the local conditions.

"This Indian team is not number one in the Test rankings for nothing," said Van Zyl.

"They’ve played very good cricket over the last couple of years and that’s why they’re number one.

"However, playing in South Africa under very different conditions is something else and that’s one of the reasons they came a bit earlier to get used to the conditions," he said.

In the end, it would be all about the execution.

"Obviously, the South African team is mindful of the Indian team. It’s a very good team and, if we think the Indian team doesn’t have a bowling attack that can bowl well on bouncy wickets, then we are mistaken.

"Again, it’s about who handles the pace and the bounce best. That’s what’s important and what we will see by the end of the Test series."

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