Arguably the top two sides in Test cricket, India and South Africa start a 2 match Test series in Nagpur later today. The series already looks to be an intriguing one, with both sides suffering their own problems during the build up.
India, the home side are missing both Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh through injury, and now they have a doubt over VVS Laxman who still has a finger injury from the Bangladesh series.
All this leaves their much vaunted batting order looking a bit fragile for once, meaning the revitalised Morne Morkel and the top class Dale Steyn must be licking their lips at the prospect of getting into them and roughing them up a bit.
Overall though, South Africa’s preparation hasn’t been great either. First they had the untimely resignation of coach Mickey Arthur, for whatever reason, as the truth seems to have yet emerged. Then they decided to sack the selection panel, and all this on the back of a hard pushed series home draw against England.
SA also have a couple of selection problems of their own as well. Do they go back to Paul Harris after dropping him for the last Test of the England series? After all, England’s batsmen appeared to finally work out how to play him.
They also have a problem with Ashwell Prince opening, whatever way they try to dress it up, he cleary dosen’t like the roll, and had a disasterous series batting there against England.
On the plus point, they finally got Wayne Parnell into the side, and he should complement Steyn and Morkel.
With both sides troubled in the build up it looks a hard match to call, the fitness of Laxman could also play a large part in the outcome of the match. The usual batsman friendly nature of Indian wickets is probably why the Draw is the favourite in the betting at 20/21 with Paddy Power and Stan James.
The 7/2 on SA could look good if they bowl first and put some pressure on India’s batting with some early wickets.
For UK fans the game is live on Sky Sports 3 at 3.55am, with play due to start shortly after.