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South Africa demand fast and bouncy wicket at Centurion

January 12, 2018 21:51 IST

'We have asked for pace and bounce so hopefully we will get that. It is the key thing.'

Vernon Philander

IMAGE: Vernon Philander celebrates the wicket of Virat Kohli during the first Test. Photograph: BCCI

South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis won't mind if their fast bowlers shape their victories against India and admitted they have demanded wickets which assist pace and bounce.

"Sitting here as a batsman, the first priority is to win games. If we play in series where the ball takes the upper hand, so be it. As long as we are winning it is fine," Du Plessis said on the eve of the second Test, in Pretoria, on Friday.

The home captain though said the wicket at the Supersport Park is a lot browner than he thought.

"The information from the groundsmen is that the grass on the wicket has been burnt from the heat over the last week. It was very hot. We have asked for pace and bounce so hopefully we will get that. It is the key thing," he said.


"If there was a bit of grass on it, it's fine then we back ourselves. If it was a low-scoring game, we would want to get 20 or 30 or 50 more. I expect a good cricket wicket and hopefully pace and bounce. We prepare bowling friendly conditions because we want to win Test matches."

The hosts, who lead this three-match series 1-0, have one selection headache. They need to find a replacement for injured Dale Steyn -- with homeboy Lungi Ngidi and all-rounder Chris Morris among the possible replacements.

"Right now I look at Morry (Morris) as a fourth seamer replacement. If you pick four seamers, he can be in amongst them. Consistency-wise he has got a bit of work to do to be a third seamer. If you pick three seamers, he will consistently have to be on the money. Dale, Morne (Morkel), Vernon (Philander) and KG (Kagiso Rabada) are a step above in that regard. But if we play four seamers he is someone who gets talked about because he has pace and X-factor, and obviously he bats as well," said Du Plessis.

The Proteas captain also lauded young pacer Philander, who is currently the No. 1 ranked bowler in Test cricket

"KG (Rabada) is an incredible athlete - I think that's his strongest attribute. He is just such a strong bowler. He can bowl the whole day and he doesn't get tired. He is very fit, which is a great thing for a captain, because you know you can always throw the ball to him.

"I still believe his best is still to come. He is learning a lot as a bowler. With his body being so strong and the mind that he has on his shoulders, always looking to improve, the best is yet to come," du Plessis said.

Despite the brown grass on the pitch, du Plessis is of the opinion that the spinner might not have much to do in the second Test.

"Generally Centurion doesn't spin that much, but there is a thick layer of ground grass on it, which is not something we're used to seeing. So it's an unknown. Hopefully it doesn't turn. To get the conditions that we would like, the ball must spin as little as possible. To have pace anywhere in the world is an advantage. If you don't have pace, your attack can get one-dimensional. I feel our attack has a lot of variety, so there is a huge X-factor to it," the skipper said.

Talking about South Africa's settled batting line-up and AB de Villiers' contribution, the skipper said, "One less batsman makes your responsibility on the top six a little bit more. I don't mind that."

"Expectation (from AB) is the same as anyone in the team. His job is to score big runs and make an impact with the bat. I know he is very hungry to do well and a hungry AB usually means a big run-scoring AB, so hopefully over the next few months, we will get a lot of runs from him. Anyone who gets judged on being the best in the world, whether it is a bowler, batsman or team, I feel should get judged all around the world," he added.

India, who go into this second Test with their record of nine consecutive series' wins on the line, face a must-win game in Centurion.

"India, at times, were really good in that first Test match. That's why I said it was one of the best Tests I have played in, because there were so many ups and downs for both teams. India was in the game for 90 per cent of the game, so it was a fantastic contest between two really strong teams.

"Their bowlers took 20 wickets, but the only part when we were a little bit better was we got more runs in the first innings. I expect another huge performance from them," Du Plessis said.

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