Biff: We'll cope without Morné

Morne Morkel (Gallo Images)
Morne Morkel (Gallo Images)

Durban - South Africa have enough strength in depth to cope without injury doubt Morné Morkel in the second Test against India, Proteas captain Graeme Smith said on Tuesday.

The fitness of the fast bowler would play a role in the make-up of the bowling attack for the Test, Smith said.

The match, starting on Boxing Day at Kingsmead in Durban, is the decisive one in the two-match series after the epic opening draw at the Wanderers, in Johannesburg, which went all the way to the final ball.

Morkel sustained an ankle injury during the game, which prevented him from bowling in the second innings and was a doubtful starter for Thursday, with Rory Kleinveldt or Kyle Abbott on stand-by to replace him.

"I think we've been really fortunate over the last period of time that we haven’t had too many serious injuries to our frontline seamers," Smith said.

"I think a decision will be made about Morné by this evening, so there's still hope he'll come through. He's done really well so we'll see how he goes today. The medical staff will make the decision on that.

"But I feel we have enough basic covered to still be effective even if he's not fit."

Another contentious selection issue revolved around spinner Imran Tahir after his failure to trouble the Indians in the first Test or go back to Robin Peterson.

There was also the option of playing an all-pace attack with slow-bowling duties cast on JP Duminy.

"I think we'll make the decision on how we feel the wicket will play throughout the five days, not just one day," Smith said.

"The Wanderers historically is a difficult place for a spinner to bowl.

"We need to see how Morné comes through his fitness test and then decide what's going to be our best attack to win a Test match."

The Durban venue has also been an unhappy hunting ground for the Proteas in the recent past. They have lost their last four Tests at Kingsmead and last won here against West Indies almost six years ago.

"Overall we haven’t had the best record in Durban and we're looking forward to the opportunity to put that right now," Smith said.

"One of the reasons why is because we haven’t adapted to the surface very well but we've had good discussions over that now."

It has also been a tough few days for the Proteas following the manner in which the first Test ended. Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander opted against chasing what would have been a world record 458 in the fourth innings to win a Test and instead batted out the closing 3.1 overs as South Africa ended on 450 for seven.

"It's been an interesting few days emotionally. I think as a team, perspective is always important and putting things into context; understanding what needs to be done.

"I feel we're mentally ready and today's training session is an important part of that. Hopefully it will be really good, with high intensity and we'll be ready for Boxing Day."

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