There has been a plenty of speculation concerning the sort of pitch India will be greeted within the first Test against South Africa at Newlands, Cape Town. Much to the relief of Indian players and the fans, it is learnt that the visitors will not face the extreme adverse conditions in Cape Town as the worst drought in many years didn’t allow the groundsmen to prepare a pitch that favours the home team.
"With the pitch, we've been able to carry on watering it as usual every day with borehole water. But the outfield, we've only watered it twice a week so it's a little bit drier and maybe not as lush as we would like it,” the groundsman Evan Flint told ESPNcricinfo.
"The challenge is that we need to leave live grass on the wicket, thin grass, so that there is pace, but we want to make sure the ball doesn't grip and turn. Ideally, what we need is a little bit of rain in the morning and then sun in the afternoon and I don't know how many days we will get that for," he further added.
Historically Indian batsmen have struggled to tackle the extra bounce in South Africa. Aside from the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, no other Indian batsman has managed to score 2 Test tons on the South African soil. No wonder, the Men in Blue have won only 2 Tests out of the 17 which they played in the rainbow nation since their readmission to cricket back in 1992.
Taking into account the weakness of the visitors, the groundsman is still trying their best and is optimistic of preparing a hard and bouncy deck.
"Everybody is pretty clear on what they want. We have tweaked a few things in terms of trying to get fresh green grass and we are also working on getting the wicket hard, so we're rolling it, but we have to keep the grass alive at the same time," Flint quoted.
"It will help the bowlers out in the beginning but it's not going to be the Wanderers or Centurion," he concluded.
India will play three Tests against the Proteas. The series will be followed by six ODIs and three T20Is.
Virat Kohli(c), Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Parthiv Patel, Jasprit Bumrah
South Africa Squad (1st Test):
Faf du Plessis(c), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Theunis de Bruyn, AB de Villiers, Dean Elgar, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn