South Africa’s cricket team need just a draw in the second Test at Kolkata’s legendary Eden Gardens to win the series and claim the No.1 ranking in world cricket.
They have played there twice in the past, with the honours shared. SA won by a mammoth 329 runs in 1996 but lost by eight wickets in 2004.
It’s hard to imagine that India will be as easy to roll over in this incredible stadium, but the fact is that they have a patchy record there. They have eight wins, eight losses and 27 draws.
Then again, the lost time they lost a Test there was back in 1999, to Pakistan.
A draw is all the Proteas need … mind you, that’s what England needed going into the final Wanderers Test last month. And we know what happened there.
Jacques Kallis is set to open the batting with Graeme Smith in the forthcoming series against Zimbabwe, with AB de Villiers to bat at No 3 (read story of squad announcement).
Looking at the statistics, it’s no wonder I get nervous when Kallis bats anywhere else in the order.
Steve Harmison was omitted from the England touring squad to South Africa, and I can’t say it came as a surprise.
For somebody who was once the top-ranked Test bowler in the world, Harmison has shown little of late. But more importantly, he had a forgettable tour the last time England toured here.
At the peak of his powers, from late 2003 to late 2005, he boasted an average of 26.33. That’s better than his career average of 31.82, and much better than his average for the past two years – 41.57 runs for every wicket taken.
When victorious England toured here in 2004/05, Harmison weighed in with a forgetable average of 73.22 in the five-Test series.
He surely won’t be missed this summer.