Posted by: nestaquin | January 2, 2011

Sydney or Cape Town: The Choice is Easy

Way down on the southernmost tip of the African continent, nestled under the often moody and always inspiring Table Mountain, a Test match will be begin later today.

Not just any old Test match either.

A mighty battle is promised between the two best teams on the planet both stacked with players of quality, experience and class, yet the media outside of the participant’s countries are basically ignoring it in favour of a dead rubber between cricket’s oldest foes.

I won’t be.

While I am keen to witness Usman Khawaja’s first foray into the international arena, the Sydney match is of little consequence. Some will badger on about Australia squaring the series but let’s be fair dinkum for a moment, The Ashes are decided and there is no prize for failure. And that is what a drawn Ashes series is for the challenger.

However, that won’t be the case at Newlands where the contest is locked at one each after India displayed their skill, character and ambition to square the series at Kingsmead after a humiliating innings defeat in the First Test.

Honestly, the Cape Town Test should have the cricket world buzzing. The series is on the line and with every player under considerable pressure, we’ll have the opportunity and pleasure of watching the finest teams in the world battle it out over five hard fought days. Every ball will matter. Every action will have consequence. Every player’s temperament, technique and character will be tested under severe pressure.

Additionally, this is the most important Test India have played for some time because many still do not recognise their status as the No.1 Test team. Defeating South Africa at home should bury that misconception for good.

There are so many individual battles and wonderful players that it would be all too easy to wax lyrical for hours. For now, I’m most looking forward to watching the elegance and exquisite strokeplay of Amla and Laxman against world class bowlers Steyn and Zaheer.

There is also a chance that Sachin could record international century 97 and/or de Villiers could once again score a hundred in a session. At the very least Sreesanth will keep us all entertained!

What is guaranteed is a Test match of consequence played between two hungry teams with plenty to prove.

If that doesn’t excite you best check your pulse!

Prediction: Dhoni will finally win a toss!

Follow Nesta on Twitter @nestaquin where there will be regular updates throughout the match in Cape Town and if you haven’t already, become a fan at our Facebook page.

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Responses

  1. That toss might be a double-edged sword… It’s raining in Cape Town…

    • With Dhoni’s recent luck with the coin, I assume he’ll definitely call correctly then ;)

  2. This will be on in the Percinho household and providing the backdrop to a day of tidying and sorting, as befits the New Year. It’s a great time zone for us in the uk, and the gap between the games will be the perfect size for a pub quiz. Happy days.

  3. Happy 2011 Perc. We still have the Xmas tree up so I think I’ll follow your lead while it’s raining on the Cape and do some tidying myself.

  4. As I write this, early lunch as been taken on Day 1 at Cape Town due to rains with South Africa at 21-1. Nestaquin, you were right… Dhoni did win the toss!

    I am amazed that in you mini-battles, you did not mention the Zaheer Khan v Graeme Smith show. Zaheer got Smith again this time… 11 times in 23 innings!

    There was a moment an over earlier that caught my attention. Smith had tucked Zaheer on the leg side, and on normal occasions, Smith would have run briskly and completed two. But on that particular ball, he just ambled across for a one. Harbhajan, while chasing the ball, slowed down hoping that Smith will take a two and face Zaheer again… but it remained a single.

    That told me a lot… We all knew that Zaheer has gotten into the head of Graeme Smith and frustrated him. But this was a public admission of the same from the SA skipper. From the man who came out with a broken hand to try and save a Test match at Sydney just 2 years ago, this was certainly not expected.

    • I didn’t mention Zac and Smith because it is a no contest. Steyn looks to have Virender’s measure too.

      It was an interesting moment when Smith only wanted one. A definite admission that Zaheer bothers him. You can see now that his comment at the toss, “It’s a good toss to lose” was all bluff and bluster.

      If it stays dry India have a great chance to have South Africa firmly under there boot at stumps. It will be easier if Ishant bowls a steady line and length while the swing bowlers attack from the other end. At the moment, 2 overs into his spell, he is bowling mostly tripe.

  5. Just joining it now with SA 58-2 with Amla and Kallis facing up to Sharma and Sreesanth. These two are great to watch together and have a lot of work to do – the test of Test cricket writ large. Disappointed to have missed ZK snaring his bunny.

    • There was a moment in Zaheer’s second over where Smith refused a second run because he didn’t want to face him. He got him next over though because Peterson demanded Smith run for an easy single even though Smith twice said no. The look he gave his opening partner as he walked off would have turned water into ice.

      You’ll probably only see the ball that took the wicket but he was set up by the previous two, one inswinger and the other an outswinger. Beautiful bowling and a well deserved wicket.

      I think Steyn has Sehwag’s measure too so that evens things up a bit.

      • I’ve seen the ball now and it only makes sense if Smith had been set up as you describe.

        Kallis and Amla are just a joy to watch in partnership.

  6. Fair sentiments, nestaquinn.
    Although I still believe India got away lucky in the second test. For all their reputation, Tendul and Dravid somehow havent really performed in South Africa when they really need to. Tendul’s 100s in SA have been boy-in-burning-deck affairs, the 169 was a firebrand one while the 100 in Centurion was a sedate affair – but no doubt, both were under less pressure because the cause was lost already.

    Amla and Kallis look immoveable – ofcourse, the non-zaheer part of Indian bowling is pathetic compared to what SRT and RSD have to face; still, I’d back Amla and Kallis against Steyn and Morkel as well. And they’ll pick just desserts of Paul Harris, unlike the Indian lineup, especially Sehwag, who do not recognise the blessing they have been given and throw their wickets to Harris. I dont expect this Indian batting lineup to dominate Harris the way he should be – milked relentlessly for 3-4 RPO, I mean, with safe sixers and boundaries to the bad balls – instead 1) Sehwag doesnt survive until harris comes on to ball 2) if he does, he stupidly gives his wicket away, the thick head. 3) SRT and RSD give too much respect to Harris and end up neither here nor there.

    232/4 is a good score – and I think AB, Prince, Kallis and Boucher and the tail can convert this into a match-winning or atleast, a not-match-losing first innings total.

    As nesta mentioned, it was a good toss for Dhoni to lose, therefore, with his luck, he seems to have won it LOL

  7. Considering the conditions – the ball was swinging wildly and seaming sideways – 232/4 is a great score after being sent in. Kallis was as solid and serene as Table Mountain and deserves his century a bit later on today.

    Appreciate all your comments here Kam. Be very interested in your thoughts when we get to the World Cup in six or seven weeks time.

  8. Thanks for the kind words nesta. I came here following MoTM from Guardian and it’s a pleasure reading Tooting Trumpet – never trusted my articulation enough to post in either of the sites for long until recently.(I still dont post comments in Guardian as the English-Australian culture specific barbs and counterpoints completely go over my head)

    Yes, Kallis deserves, and I daresya, it is quite easy to predict confidently that Kallis will get his century today. Frankly, one doesnt get that sort of certainty in prediction with Sachin, Ponting or even Dravid. When he crosses 70, and looks good, you know that Kallis will not throw it away( I mean, i cant think of a single such instance) – that is never the case with Sachin, adn to a lesser extent Ponting, and surprisingly even Dravid

    • kam – Thanks for the kind words and following me here from The Guardian. I don’t always agree with your thoughts, but the world would be a boring place if we all sat around nodding to each other!

      • Oh yes. I am afraid I dont have much respect for the English Cricket team but pardon me, I grew up in the 80s and 90s and it is hard for me to accept thatthis new-look English team with all its swanky, well-oiled machinery parts, is for real.

        But I guess if they continue the way they are doing now, they’ll turn me around soon. Scary prospect, that :-)

        • England were good for much of the 80s and the 00s, but were poor throughout the 90s.

          • Yeah, and I happened to start following ashes series around 1989. That explains my attitude towards the ECT :-)

  9. Never judge a pitch until both sides have batted and all that, but this looks a huge innings from Kallis. Worth double on some of the pudding wickets we’ve in recent years.

    • No doubt the pitch was much harder to bat on yesterday. It defies belief that Bradman and Hammond could have scored so often on uncovered wickets which would have been even more difficult especially without armour!

      • They did have a more generous LBW law, but it still beggars belief.


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