Peter Kirsten - Peter's Point!

Peter Kirsten shares his views ahead of the crucial third Test at Green Park, Kanpur.

Thursday, April 10, 2022
Beware of the wounded tiger!

Fortunately it appears that Green Park, Kanpur ground curator has got it right for the third Test. There is no doubt that without a hint of any greenness in this wicket, this wicket will turn and bounce on day one and so at last suit the Indian spin attack of Kumble, Harbajhan and possibly Ramesh Powar or Chawla. The heat will dry the wicket considerably and cause already visible cracks to widen more as the game progresses. Uneven bounce though will also aid the fearsome SA fast bowling attack.
Kumble's fitness however is a concern and a decision as to whether he will play will only be taken tomorrow morning. This of course is not an ideal situation as I am sure that Ramesh Powar or Chawla would like to know where they stand and so be able to prepare themselves mentally overnight. Spare a thought also for MS Dhoni who would then have to take over the captaincy, which would add more pressure to this impressive wicketkeeper/ batsman. I am convinced though that he would do a fine job as he already has the backing of his team and is no stranger to captaincy - on the contrary, he has already proved a successful one.
Ishant Sharma's return to the side is a huge plus for the Indian fast bowling attack. He has been sorely missed of late and he will severely test the in form SA batsmen with his aggression and confidence emanating from his successful exploits in Australia. Although he has been out for a month he has performed most impressively at nets during the week and will automatically lift the spirits of his teammates, especially Sreesanth who is expected to share the new ball with him.
It would be a huge let down for the whole Indian squad and management if India don't win this Test match and so drop to No 5 in the Test rankings below SA, Sri Lanka and England. However it is known that the players are hurting badly after the 'Massacre at Motera' plus the mandatory criticism that accompanies such a humiliation. It is expected that national and personal pride will surface and so save Gary Kirsten from a tough situation. The week's preparation however has been solid, much better than before the second Test, so SA beware of the wounded tiger! It has been a tough baptism for Kirsten but a number of factors have been beyond his control and I am confident that, in time, he will regain India's No 2 position if they do not win the third Test in Kanpur.
The toss will of course be crucial to both teams’ fortunes and of course the unevenness of the track will make life difficult for the batsmen later in the game. Naturally the side who wins the toss will bat first, so big runs in the first innings will definitely set up victory for the side batting first. Both team's bowling attacks will be difficult to counter as the match progresses so expect the team who wins the toss to be on a psychological high at the start of the Test. It is a pity though that a Test match should be decided on the toss of a coin but India really have had no other recourse in which to follow!
Without Sachin Tendulkar, extra pressure will be on Sehwag, Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman. These are key players for India in terms of getting big runs on the board. If they can do it collectively and not rely on individuals, they will put India in a good position. Likewise Smith, Kallis, De Villiers, Mckenzie for SA. The SA fast bowlers will be tested on this wicket but they are confident. Paul Harris will enjoy bowling here. One need say no more about the importance of Kumble and Harbajhan or one of the other two Indian spinners if they get the chance. The desire to win will be the key factor.
If the IPL is still a distracting factor then half this Indian team should not be selected in future - but somehow I think they are focused this time around.