'Wicket is expected to favour seamers'
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni hasn't been lucky with the coin of late and there are times when the spin of the coin does have a telling impact on the match.
Dhoni's counterpart Graeme Smith can't agree more as his pacers ensured that his decision to field first during the first Test remained vindicated as they rattled the Indian batting line-up in the first innings.
Dhoni will certainly hope that the 'Lady Luck' smiles upon him as spin of coin can again have an impact on the result of the second Test at Kingsmead-- inarguably the bounciest among the South African pitches.
Talking about the importance of winning the toss, Dhoni said, "It will be important, but I think the wicket will behave in the similar way throughout the Test match. The forecast also seems cloudy throughout the Test. And the statistics say whenever it is cloudy in Durban, the ball does a bit.
"Toss will be crucial because the wicket will be fresh and it will help seamers throughout," he added.
Image: MS Dhoni
Rules out playing four pacers
The Indian captain said in jest that he wouldn't mind if anyone can tell him what's magic mantra of calling correctly.
"That's a difficult one because you have to pick one of the two options. I don't mind if any can stand up and tell me okay this is the call that will ensure that I win. We will call for that tomorrow," was Indian skipper's answer to the question whether he is practising the spin of coin.
The Indian captain however ruled out the possibility of going with four pacers although the pitch will have good bounce and carry. The reason being the over-rate problems that emerges when one goes in with four quicks.
"The last game where we played three pacers and a spinner, we were 21 minutes short. If we play with four fast bowlers, I will definitely get a match ban due to slow over-rate," was his precise answer.
About playing a spinner, Dhoni said, "Definitely the spinner can have a control on the proceedings. When you have a wicket like this, more often than not, the batsmen look to cash on the spinners. If you bowl to a good line and length, whatever the wicket maybe, you can always contribute to the game."
Image: Harbhajan Singh
'The wicket looks quite green'
Although the wicket looks green from a distance, the Indian captain feels that the IPCL ground at Vadodara was even greener.
"The wicket looks quite green. But as far as I can recollect, I played a Ranji Trophy game in my debut first-class season against Vadodara at the IPCL ground, which was even greener," Dhoni recollected.
The captain is hopeful that bowlers will put up a better show than Centurion where the South African batsmen literally hammered them.
"The bowlers have been doing well in the last two training sessions. Of course, Zaheer Khan will be back in the side, which is a big bonus for us. At the same time, we know the other bowlers have got the talent. It's just that they need to execute the plans well, and at times they have to be patient," Dhoni said.
"If you take care of all these things, it reflects in the bowling department. As we saw in the last game, we were not able to get even 10 wickets. It is a definitely a big worry if you want to win the Test," Dhoni added.
Image: Zaheer Khan
'Lower-order have learnt to put a price-tag on their wicket'
One of the biggest positives according to Dhoni has been the contribution from the lower-order. A testimony to that has been Harbhajan Singh's back-to-back centuries against New Zealand in the recently concluded home series.
"One of the important things was the lower-order contribution. The lower-order batsmen have learnt to put a price-tag on their wicket. They have contributed along with the batsmen. At the same time if the batsmen get out, they are able to score runs, which really frustrates the opposition," Dhoni said.
The Indian captain seemed satisfied with the team's overall performance during the year.
"We have really done well. We have played some good, consistent cricket. As a team we have done well. Everyone has contributed --bowlers or the batsmen or the fielders.
"The part-timers have contributed in getting wickets, at the same time the lower-order has really contributed quite consistently throughout the year. As a team we have had a good calendar year. There are plenty of positives in the kind of consistent cricket we have played," he concluded.
Image: Ishant Sharma