South Africa will be hoping for a repeat of history when they take on India in a series-deciding third and final Test at Newlands on Sunday.
Four years ago, South Africa beat India by five wickets at Newlands after the series had been locked at one-all – as is the case in the current series.
Looking ahead to the decider after India’s 87-run win in the second Test in Durban, Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni recalled: “We had a brilliant first innings. The second innings was a bit disappointing, because of which we lost the Test match. It’s very important to be at our best in all three departments.”
South African captain Graeme Smith took solace from his team’s proud record at Newlands, where the host country have won 14 out of 21 Test matches since 1993, with only three defeats, all by Australia.
“India are a very experienced team,” said Smith. “We expected them to bounce back and they have. They played well and it builds up for a big Test match at Newlands. It’s always great to play in a New Year Test match in Cape Town and it’s going to be even bigger now.”
India led on the first innings four years ago after scoring 414 but collapsed to 169 all out in their second innings, enabling South Africa to snatch victory despite a weather delay on the final day.
Eight of the probable South African team played in that match, together with six of the current Indian team.
India’s win in Durban, which followed an innings defeat in the first Test, ensured they would remain ahead of South Africa as the number one ranked Test team, irrespective of what happens at Newlands. More importantly, perhaps, they showed in Durban that they are a far more resilient team than most previous Indian touring sides in South Africa.
Any complacency in the South African camp following their win by an innings and 25 runs in the first Test in Centurion would have been swept away by India’s convincing win in Durban and Smith said South Africa were determined to play better at Newlands.
Although the Durban Test ended a day early, both teams had to wait until Friday to assemble in Cape Town because of a shortage of flights and hotel rooms during South Africa’s peak holiday season.
Gautam Gambhir, who missed the second Test because of injury, is expected to return to the Indian team in place of Murali Vijay.
South Africa: Graeme Smith (capt), Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, Ashwell Prince, Mark Boucher (wkt), Dale Steyn, Paul Harris, Morne Morkel, Lonwabo Tsotsobe
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Cheteshwar Pujara, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Sree Sreesanth
Umpires: Ian Gould (ENG), Simon Taufel (AUS)
TV umpire: Brian Jerling (RSA)
Match referee: Andy Pycroft (ZIM)