SOUTH Africa captain Graeme Smith is in doubt for the second test against India starting tomorrow, with the visitors needing only a draw to clinch a series victory and reclaim top spot in the world test rankings.
Smith injured the little finger on his left hand during catching practice yesterday. A scan showed ligament damage that could threaten his participation in the Eden Gardens test.
“There has been considerable swelling,” media spokesman Michael Owen-Smith said. “We have to wait for the next 24 hours to see how things are.”
Smith was expected to test out the injury at a net session today.
South Africa won the first test at Nagpur by an innings and six runs, but India will be strengthened by the return of some players from injury for the upcoming test.
V.V.S. Laxman, who was a late withdrawal from the series opener, will be back, while pace bowler S.Sreesanth was included in the 15-man squad named today, along with Dinesh Karthik and Suresh Raina.
Those making way from the first test’s 15-man squad were wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha and the pace duo of Sudip Tyagi and Abhimanyu Mithun.
South Africa thought the wicket at Eden Gardens would suit the Indian spinners while negating its own pacemen led by Dale Steyn, but ground curator Prabir Mukherjee said the “wicket will be a sporting one – it would last for five days”.
Mukherjee denied that he received any official instruction to make the pitch a turning one to help India’s chances of victory.
Jagmohan Dalmiya, president of Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) which oversees Calcutta matches, said “even if any instructions do come it is not possible to change the nature of the pitch overnight.”
A draw will be of no benefit to India, whose current hold on the No.1 ICC ranking was under severe threat.
“We have got no choice but to go for a win,” India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said.
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Murali Vijay, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman, Subramanium Badrinath, Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra, Zaheer Khan, S.Sreesanth, Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ozha, Dinesh Karthik and Suresh Raina.
South Africa: Graeme Smith (captain), Hashim Amla, Ashwell Prince, A.B. de Villiers, Jacques Kallis, Jean-Paul Duminy, Alviro Petersen, Mark Boucher, Paul Harris, Johan Botha, Ryan McLaren, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Dale Steyn and Lonwabo Tsotsobe.