West Indies vs South Africa first Test preview

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West Indies vs South Africa first Test preview

After completing a series whitewash against the West Indies in May’s five-match ODI series, South Africa will be looking to inflict further pain on their hosts when the teams begin their Test series tomorrow.

This is about more than retaining their grip on the Sir Vivian Richards Trophy for the Proteas too, with Graeme Smith’s side sure to enter the series with an eye on moving closer to reclaiming the No. 1 Test ranking from India.

The hosts, who lost the final ODI match against South Africa by just one run after finishing the match poorly, will now be looking to salvage some pride in front of their home crowd when they take to the field in Trinidad.

For South Africa, Hashim Amla (pictured) is again shaping as the key man in their batting line-up after he took apart the India bowlers with scores of 253 not out, 114 and 123 in his three innings on the subcontinent.

The 27-year-old has so far continued that form in the Caribbean, scoring two centuries in the ODI series against the West Indies to finish with scores of 102, 92, 34, 129 and 45 in the five matches and jump 21 places in the ICC’s One-Day International batting rankings to share the fourth spot with Sachin Tendulkar, no less.

It’s tough to imagine the West Indies pinning Amla down for long when he’s back in his whites for the Test matches either, and even if they manage it for an innings or two there’s still the likes of Smith and Jacques Kallis to contend with, among others.

The fact the hosts will be without the services of Jerome Taylor for the opening Test won’t help the situation either. The pace spearhead sidelined with a hip injury he picked up in the final ODI against South Africa and has returned to Jamaica as he continues his recovery.

Batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan has also been left out of the West Indies squad as he continues to battle a hamstring strain, which leaves a batting card already thin on talent looking even more emaciated. Once again, it will be up to Gayle and Shivnarine Chanderpaul to strain under the load of shouldering the bulk of the West Indies’ scoring hopes.

While that pair can take some comfort in the fact the injured paceman Wayne Parnell will miss the Caribbean series that still leaves Dale Steyn to contend with, while the Proteas brains trust work out who will support the world’s top ranked Test bowler at Queen’s Park Oval.

Morne Morkel should get the nod, but Ryan McLaren and Lonwabo Tsotsobe have both put forward strong cases with their performances in the ODI series to create a welcome headache at the selection table.

Mark Boucher, who missed the concluding Test of the series against India during February and who was omitted from South Africa’s ODI squad in the Caribbean, will resume wicket keeping duties for the Test series.

South Africa haven’t relinquished their grip on the Sir Vivian Richards Trophy since the sides began playing for it in 2001, and by the time the first Test of this series concludes, they should be one victory closer to retaining it yet again.



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