India-South Africa Test: Proteas to unleash full pace attack

The first Test gets underway in Pretoria on Tuesday

By Reuters

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South Africa's Gerald Coetzee. Photo: AFP
South Africa's Gerald Coetzee. Photo: AFP

Published: Sat 23 Dec 2023, 5:58 PM

South Africa are hopeful that both fast bowlers Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi will be available for selection in the first Test against India that gets underway in Pretoria on Tuesday, coach Shukri Conrad has confirmed.

Rabada has been struggling with a heel injury and Ngidi with his ankle, but Conrad says they are still part of the squad.

"They are both here with us and that means they are available for selection as things stand," Conrad told reporters on Saturday.

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"We have not called anybody in as a replacement and hopefully come the morning of the match we have 15 fit players to select from."

Baby in Test cricket

Whether the duo play or not, it is likely Gerald Coetzee, the firebrand 23-year-old fast bowler who impressed in the 50-over World Cup in India that concluded last month, will get a run on what is likely to be a Centurion Park wicket with pace and bounce, regardless of his lack of test experience.

Coetzee took nine wickets in the two tests he has played so far, against West Indies earlier this year.

"He's still a baby in Test cricket," Conrad said. "He's been phenomenal every time he’s stepped onto the field, whether it be with the white ball in his hand or the red one. This is just going to be another step.

"He brings aggression, he brings something that we've always prided ourselves on as South Africans, which is pace.

"He brings all of those elements and hopefully through the experience he builds in the (T20) league’s and playing for South Africa with the white and red ball, in a couple of years’ time he can be leading our bowling attack."

India seek first series win

India are seeking a first Test series win in South Africa and Conrad says his side are desperate to uphold their record of never having lost to the tourists on home soil.

"If it was possible to make this even bigger, then the fact that India have never won here does that," he said. "We certainly want to hold on to that proud record and make sure that that doesn't happen.

"There are so many matchups that this series hinges on. It's two tests, so it's a high pressured one. You go 1-0 down and you can't win the series. You go 1-0 up, you can't lose. It's going to be like a heavyweight boxing bout."

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