Johannesburg: Battered by poor performances of late, a lacklustre India go into the five-match one-day series against South Africa here Sunday with their batting and bowling still in disarray. With batsmen under the weather and bowlers still trying to find their feet, the task is going to be a tough one for the visitors.
The loss in the tour-opener against a second string South Africa A would have hardly done any good to their sagging morale while a question mark hangs over the availability of Virender Sehwag.
The result at the Wanderers would set the tone for the series and if the record of no win and two losses at this venue is any indication, India are in for a harrowing time.
There was a flicker of hope regarding Sehwag being available after he batted at nets Saturday, but Rahul Dravid said his fitness would be reassessed Sunday before taking a final decision.
“Sehwag batted today in the nets and he looked alright though it has to be seen how his finger responds to it. We also have to look at the issue of what effect his injury could have on his fielding,” said Dravid on the eve of the day-night match.
Sehwag did practice a great deal from one of the two bowling machines engaged by the Indians during indoor nets. Outdoor wickets were ruled out because of the beating it has taken from the rains in the last couple of days.
There is also a rain threat looming large for Sunday’s match after it virtually poured all Saturday.
The Delhi opener then left the ground with physio John Gloster, once again raising the speculation if the dashing right-hander would indeed be fit for the game.
More confusion lies in the bowling ranks. Harbhajan Singh has done little wrong in recent times to warm the bench but such is the stature of Anil Kumble that he commands a place in the XI as long as he is part of the squad.
India (from): Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag/Wasim Jaffer, Rahul Dravid, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Mohammed Kaif, Dinesh Mongia, Suresh Raina, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Dinesh Karthik, Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel, Zaheer Khan, Sreesanth.
South Africa (from): Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, Loots Bosman, Mark Boucher, AB de Villiers, Boeta Dippenaar, Herschelle Gibbs, Andrew Hall, Justin Kemp, Charl Langeveldt, Andre Nel, Makhaya Ntini, Robin Peterson, Shaun Pollock.
Match begins: 6 pm IST.