Australia vs India
Australia have won the toss and have elected to bat on a pitch that is supposed to be flat, however some rain from the last few days should make it a tricky start. Ponting believes it was a good toss to win, with some cracks already in the pitch. The Indian side have gone with two spinners whilst Australia has only one.
Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Matthew Hayden, Phil Jaques, Michael Clarke, Mike Hussey, Andrew Symonds, Adam Gilchrist, Brett Lee, Brad Hogg, Stuart Clark, Mitchell Johnson.
India: Anil Kumble (captain), Wasim Jaffer, Rahul Dravid, Vangipurappu Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Rudra Pratap Singh.
South Africa vs West Indies
South Africa have named an unchanged side from their series victory against New Zealand, it is just a question of who will sit out. There has been rain in Port Elizabeth which indicates Pollock would be the logical choice to exploit the conditions and bolster the batting. Nel has somehow managed to survive the chop thus far and could well be in the starting XI. Smith has indicated that only a very very green pitch would be the undoing of Paul Harris’s spot from the team, which means the selectors will decide between Polly and Nel.
If Pollock is selected he should pick up a few wickets given the conditions, if not Dale Steyn will more than likely get his third 10 wickets in a match running. Dale is the only strike bowler currently in the SA side. Unfortunately Nel, Polly and Ntini just don’t seem to have the edge they once had. That being said, they are still quality bowlers who can exploit the weaknesses of any side, however they don’t inspire confidence in me that a wicket is imminent when they have ball in hand, a treat Dale Steyn brings to the attack.
Personally I think Pollock is the right call for this match, given the bad weather down in the Eastern Cape, with more rain likely during the test. Pollock is still one of the best at utilizing favourable conditions which are likely to prevail.
On the West Indian front, things look dire. Although they thrashed the Proteas in the Twenty20 match, they were embarrassed by the South African “A” side in a 4 day warm up game which lasted only 3 days as SA “A” won by 10 wickets. They have lost 17 of their last 20 tests on the road and the captain remains a doubtful starter.
On the positive side the West Indians seem to be forming an attack which could cause havoc amongst the South African middle order, which can be fragile if Kallis goes cheaply. Kallis has been the star this year with 5 hundreds and 5 fifties in 15 innings. Chanderpaul has gone one notch higher and hasn’t scored less that 50 in any innings this year. This may sound impressive however he has only had 5 test innings this year.
South Africa are the firm favourites for the series and it will take something incredibly special for the West Indians to challenge the number 2 side in the world. It is not going to happen, unfortunately the question is by how much will the Windies lose by?