x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Centurion is a happy hunting ground for Proteas

In 15 Tests at Centurion, South Africa have lost just one, the 1999 game against England that became infamous for Hansie Cronje accepting a leather jacket from a bookmaker.

PRETORIA // In 15 Tests at Centurion, South Africa have lost just one, the 1999 game against England that became infamous for Hansie Cronje accepting a leather jacket from a bookmaker.

That aside, they have won 11, though England and Graeme Onions kept them at bay in dramatic fashion the last time they played there. Having never beaten India at the Wanderers in Johannesburg, it was no surprise when South Africa opted for Centurion for the series opener.

There has been rain in the air for the past week and the pitch is damp and tinged with green. With their local knowledge, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel will be a formidable proposition in seam-friendly conditions. India will also be wary of Lonwabo Tsotsobe, given their problems with left-arm pace.

With its grassy banks and open stands, Centurion is a throwback to old-style cricket grounds and with the school holidays having arrived, there should be a decent crowd to support the home side. But with plenty of India expatriates in the Gauteng region, the Indian tricolour will not be scarce.