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Thursday, December 26, 2013

2nd Test at Port city of Durban starts today

SA were agonizingly close to a historic victory in a match where India can take a lot of credit…. Eventually Dale Steyn and Philander were booed in their own country ….. they were expected to blow Indians over….now the scene shifts to Durban, a port city.

Durban is the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal. It is also the second most important manufacturing hub in South Africa after Johannesburg. Durban is famous for being the busiest port in South Africa and Africa. It is also seen as one of the major centres of tourism because of the city's warm subtropical climate and extensive beaches.  The idea of Durban as a port dates back to 1824 when the first European settlers made a landing with the intention of setting up a trading post. The Bay of Natal (Durban Bay) was one of the few natural harbours available along the east coast of southern Africa between Algoa Bay and Delagoa Bay (now Maputo Bay). Vasco da Gama is said to have sighted the Bay on Christmas Day, 1497.  Since then ships called sporadically over several centuries.

The modern day Durban is a busy port having a total of 59 effective berths excluding those used by fishing vessels and ship repair. The bay also has an inner anchorage. A single buoy mooring at Isipingo on the southeast side of the Bluff caters for very large crude carriers (VLCC) that are too large to enter the port. A total of 302km of rail tracks extends throughout the port area along with several major marshalling yards. It is a famous container port and the second container terminal on Pier One commenced operations in 2007. Africa's biggest and busiest container terminal, the Durban Container Terminal ranks among the top in the world.  The terminal has a combined capacity of 3.6 million TEU per annum, which will increase to 4 million TEU after the berth extension. (source of news and photo : www.transnet-tpt.net) 

Little more than a stone's throw from the ocean, is located  Kingsmead, home to sandy beaches and surfing. The ground has played host to tests since January 1923 when England and South Africa played to out a draw. Indians  were skittled for just 66 in 1996. In 2003 Kingsmead staged the World Cup semi-final between India and Kenya. Statistically, this is South Africa's worst Test venue in recent years. Worst not just at home. Anywhere. They have lost to Sri Lanka, India, England and Australia in their last four matches at Kingsmead. There reportedly  isn't much grass here this time.

The pace attack remains unchanged – no Ashwin now and Sir Jadeja walks in…. Imran Tahir is dropped and in comes Robin Pietersen.  At least Indians are not bruised as they have already exceeded expectations on this tour, but this is not the time for them to take stock of that. They can take pride in having told South Africa that it will take nothing but their best to win this home series. A step further, though, will cap a remarkable year for them.

Though he is still there for today’s match – SA will find it hard to recuperate from the loss of Jacques Kallis who has affirmed solidity to batting and energy to bowling besides catching whatever came his way. To me, it appeared that his announcement was well prepared but well disguised too in tune with timing which has been his quality – be it the drives or the clever placements.  He was more or less the grafter,  the run-machine, the amasser, he was piling runs and raking up centuries at will and was breathing hard on Sachin Tendulkar……….now his retirements puts more premium on Sachin’s achievements.  While all of us know of his batting and bowling too………. he has 199 grabs as an efficient slip fielder with bucket hands.  He led South Africa only twice in Tests, both times against Australia.

Early this year, he had to sit out against Pakistan at Centurion because of a calf injury picked up at an optional training session. Kyle Abbott featured in his place …………but was dropped when Kallis returned ~ a luxury, when you read of what Abbot did in that match.  The fast bowling Kyle Abbott is part of this squad coming as a back up for Morne Morkel, but did not get his 2nd chance.  Abbot  had had a terrific start to his Test career -  in his debut Test in February 2013, against Pakistan in Centurion, he took a match haul of nine including 7 for 29 in the first innings.  In that test no. 2075 in Feb 2013, the debutant ran through Pak claiming – Mohd Hafeez, Younish Khan, Misbah, Sarfraz ahmed, Saeed Ajmal, Ehsan Adil & Mohd Irfan….bowling them out for 156 with his figures being 11.4-4-29-7.  when Pak followed on he took the wickets of  Imran Farhat and Ehsan Adil ~ was man of the match, but is yet to play his 2nd test……… will such a thing happen in the sub-continent ?

In 2010 India beat SA at Kingsmead by 87 runs in a low scoring test ~ and that raises lot of hopes for the visitors

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

26th Dec 2013

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