The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Smith gets off on wrong foot
- SA captain in doubt for Eden Test after injury
Smith, on crutches, with Pollock on Saturday. Picture by Santosh Ghosh

Calcutta, Nov. 27: Till yesterday afternoon, there was a question mark over Sourav Ganguly leading India at the Eden. Now, South African captain Graeme Smith is in doubt.

In fact, it will be a miracle if he goes for the toss tomorrow.

In a bizarre accident at the team hotel's porch ' more unusual than Inzamam-ul Haq crashing into the roof of the team bus almost six years ago ' the front wheel of a car (not Smith's) assigned to the visitors went over the captain's left foot this morning.

Smith had just returned after a media conference at the Eden and was moving in front of the car parked ahead of his.

Stunned, he put his hands on his knees, paused for a few moments and, then, walked into the hotel. Soon enough, though, he was in considerable pain and taken to Woodlands for an X-ray and CT scan.

Later, Smith went to Belle Vue for an MRI.

The MRI revealed 'soft tissue damage' and, in the opinion of orthopaedist Sisir Mondal, who attended on Smith, he isn't going to be fit for the second and final Test.

The orthopaedist even said had Smith been his patient, he would have 'immediately' put the foot in a cast. Smith, by the way, returned to the hotel on crutches.

The South African team's (official) position, however, is that a call will only be made shortly before the toss. There's also talk of putting Smith through a fitness test.

Should Smith be ruled out, as is likely, the captaincy is going to go to Boeta Dippenaar, who got elevated to the No. 2 position after Nicky Boje cried off.

With the captains monopolising attention in the build-up, the focus has shifted from what essentially is a huge game for both teams.

The first Test ended in a yawn-attracting draw, at the Green Park in Kanpur, but South Africa gained more by at least forcing a first innings lead --- marginal though it was.

The visitors' approach, however, was anything but electrifying and something similar may encourage fewer to pack the terraces. Not that the Eden will be anywhere close to capacity.

India, clearly, haven't justified their pre-season rating but, as Sourav told The Telegraph: 'Quite a few of us got some runs (in the first Test) and, basically, it's about fans keeping faith and us riding on self-belief...'

Refreshingly, the Eden wicket hasn't been subjected to the scrutiny seen, for instance, in Nagpur and Mumbai.

Sourav felt the surface is 'result-oriented,' while Smith spoke of it being a 'lot drier' than Kanpur. His belief is that it's going to turn from the third day.

Smith will probably have to watch from the dressing room.

Incidentally, except the last Test (against the West Indies, two years ago), the five preceding ones ended decisively with India winning thrice.

The one previous Test versus South Africa, though (1996-97), ended in a huge defeat for India.

Surely, there's something that must be set right.

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