When the hessian was lifted off the pitch at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Friday, a day before the second Test match, the grass was brown, nearly straw coloured. In Newlands, in the middle of the worst drought Cape Town has experienced, the pitch was green. If you think this is backwards, the pitch curiosity does not end there. The Indian batsmen will definitely have their task cut-out with pace and bounce not being something that Virat Kohli and his boys are too comfortable against.
"It looks a really lively pitch", Kohli said at his pre-Test press conference on Friday.
"Pandya's performance has given India this sweet headache, for leaving him out would invite wrath of the supporters and experts - he was the highest scorer of the game from both sides - but playing him might mean compromising with the team combination that you might think is ideal for the pitch in Centurion, and what's best suited for the team after the twin batting failure", Chopra wrote in his column for First Cricket.
The legendary left-hander, who has more often than not, prefered the five-bowler theory also said Pandya should be persisted with, especially after the Baroda all-rounder counter-attacking knock in Cape Town. "Our culture is strong on making sure that when young guys come into the team that we treat them as though they have played 50 or 70 or 100 Tests", he revealed.
Sharing his thoughts, du Plessis said, "It looks a bit browner than I thought it would be". The information from the groundsman was that the grass on the wicket had been burnt from the heat over the last week. "Last week was very hot".
"We have asked for pace and bounce and hopefully that is what we will get".
Centurion - The story of Newlands is now forgotten as attention turns sharply to SuperSport Park for the second Test between the Proteas and India starting on Saturday.
Interestingly, Du Plessis admitted he hadn't seen Ngidi in action until Thursday. For me‚ the key thing is pace and bounce and if there was a little bit of grass it would be fine‚ but we back ourselves. They will have taken a lot of positives from that match, and they will feel they weren't far off.
Du Plessis was rested for the T20s against Sri Lanka. The most obvious choice, given the talk of pace, is Lungi Ngidi, the 21-year-old tall quick who routinely hits 145kmh.
He saw Chris Morris as a fourth-seamer replacement. "If you do that against a strong team like India they will pounce on you".
With the first Test completed inside nine sessions on a wicket that gave the fast bowlers plenty to work with, there had been concerns the strips at Centurion and the Wanderers (for the third Test) would provide similar results. "I feel our attack has a lot of variety, so there is a huge X-factor to it", the skipper said.
So when exactly does raw pace become enough to trouble batsmen at the worldwide level?
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