Centurion wicket to give batsmen a chance

Aiden Markram (Gallo)
Aiden Markram (Gallo)

Centurion - The story of Newlands is now forgotten as attention turns sharply to SuperSport Park for the second Test between the Proteas and India starting on Saturday.

With the first Test completed inside nine sessions on a wicket that gave the fast bowlers plenty to work with, there had been concerns the strips at Centurion and the Wanderers (for the third Test) would provide similar results. 

"If every Test match finishes inside three days and we're on the right side of the result, then I'm okay with that," Proteas coach Ottis Gibson offered after the Cape Town Test. 

But a look at the Centurion wicket on Friday suggests there will be much more in it for the batsmen than initially anticipated.

There is not as noticeable a green tinge on this wicket compared to what there was in Cape Town, and that suggests less seam movement for the quicks. 

What Centurion is likely to offer, however, is pace and steep bounce, and the Proteas will consider those two major positives with Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada steaming in. 

South Africa must also identify their replacement for Dale Steyn, with Duanne Olivier, Lungi Ngidi and Chris Morris in the running for that honour. 

Speaking in Pretoria on Thursday ahead of his first ever Test match at his home ground, Proteas opener Aiden Markram acknowledged that, historically, the Centurion wicket was always good to bat on. 

And while he knew that things would be different this time around with groundsman Bryan Bloy asked to look after the fast bowlers, Markram still expects the Centurion wicket to be "less crazy" than what the batters were given at Newlands. 

It all suggests that this Test will go longer than three days.

Weather-wise, Centurion is expected to be covered in sunshine for most of the five days while there is no rain expected. 

Whichever way South Africa decide to go in their set-up, their fast bowlers will remain their major asset as they look to wrap up the series. 

But, indications are that the batsmen will at least stand a fighting chance this time around.

Sport24 journalist @Lloyd Burnard is in Pretoria covering the 2nd Test between SA and India ...

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