NEW DELHI (Reuters) – The 22-yard wicket at Delhi’s Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium filled the beleaguered South African team with optimism on Tuesday that the fourth and final test against India will buck the trend and last more than three days.
South Africa kicked off their longest tour of India by winning the Twenty20 and one-day series before the hosts rolled out turning pitches and unleashed their formidable phalanx of skilful spinners to turn the tables in the test matches.
The world’s top-ranked test team were beaten inside three days in Mohali and Nagpur while India also dominated what little play was possible in the rain-ruined match in Bangalore.
The visitors were naturally eager to have a look at the pitch to be used for the final test starting on Thursday and assistant coach Adrian Birell was hopeful it would last longer.
“We are playing in India so we expect the pitches to turn. This one looks like it will go more than three days,” Birell told reporters after the team’s practice session.
South Africa lost all 20 wickets in Nagpur to the Indian tweakers, with off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin claiming 12.
Birell said he and spin bowling consultant Claude Henderson were helping the batsmen prepare better for the likes of Ashwin and leggie Amit Mishra.
“We are trying to do very specific training. We take the stumps and put it behind and use the rough there to try and simulate maybe what we’re going to get in the match,” he said.
“I’m an old leg-spinner and I bowl from a very shortened run-up and bowl from about 15 yards, try and simulate Mishra. I’m not even close, but we try.
“And we got others guys that throw off-spinners and try and simulate Ashwin. We’re doing what we can to try and prepare as specific as possible. Unfortunately, we’re not as good as Ashwin.”
South Africa have missed Dale Steyn, nursing a groin injury, after the first test in Mohali and Birrell said the pace bowler will undergo a fitness test on Wednesday before a call is made on his participation in the final match.
Mishra warned that the Proteas would have to improve their technique against spin to avoid another defeat.
“I admit it spun more (in the series). Their technique was inadequate to cope with it. I think, if they improve their technique, they can better deal with spin,” said the 33-year-old.
(By Amlan Chakraborty, Editing by Ed Osmond)