Morne Morkel calls Centurion wicket similar to sub-continental one

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Morne Morkel calls Centurion wicket similar to sub-continental one

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SportsCafe Desk

01/16/2018

Morne Morkel has expressed his disappointment over the Centurion pitch as he took a dig at the curators and compared the wicket to pitches that are available in India. The pacer also praised Virat Kohli’s effort and claimed that the visitors showed the potential of winning a first-ever series in SA.

Morkel was the highest wicket-taker of the home side as he claimed four wickets while conceding 60 runs which helped South Africa wrap up India’s first innings at 307 runs. Ahead of the second game of the series, it was expected that the Centurion pitch would be fast as compared to the Newlands track. But the South African players especially Morkel seemed disappointed with the behavior of the track and he compared it with the Indian tracks.  

"There's a very sub-continental feel to it. It is tough to score, and tough to get people out. Luckily we've got some experience of that in the bank. But they are not the conditions that we want here in South Africa. I've played cricket here all my life, and I've never seen a wicket like this at the SuperSport Park. It was really hard work. In the heat, with conditions really tough, it was right up there with one of the hardest spells I've bowled," said Morkel after day three of the second Test as quoted by Cricketnext.

Earlier, Centurion pitch curator Bryan Bloy claimed that the pitch would behave according to its nature and both teams will get bounce and pace during the second Test. He also added that instead of making it favorable for the home team, he has focused on preparing a pitch that will play true to its nature.

"I think the pace of the wicket was the toughest aspect. You've got a small little window with the new ball. The reason might be because its under covers overnight, but in the first hour, the balls seems a little bit quicker off the deck. But after that, there's actually been no pace in the wicket. It's important to come out with different sorts of game plans. You need to try a lot of things but we had runs on the board in the first innings to try different things. From a bowling point of view, it is definitely not the ideal sort of surface," he added.

When India ended their Day 2 session, the score was 183 for 5 with Kohli and Hardik Pandya on the crease. Everybody was expecting a strong partnership between the two Indian players as the skipper had already completed his half century and was batting at 85. And Pandya won hearts with his 93-run knock in the opener of the series and everybody believed that once again he would show that characteristic but his casual approach resulted in his dismissal via a run out which was considered unforgivable according to Sunil Gavaskar as it turned as a turning point for South Africa.

"Luckily by a run-out, things changed a little bit. Otherwise, I think it would have been an interesting sort of day. And then with the bat this afternoon, I thought Dean (Elgar) and AB played superbly after losing those two early wickets. It was tough, with Ashwin bowling from one end and they had the luxury of rotating their seamers from the top. But the way they stuck out, to have the lead by over 100 tonight is satisfying," said Morkel.

The first Test of series was played in Cape Town which was a pace-friendly pitch and offered a lot of swing until the end of Day 4. The hosts managed to win the game on the second last day of the match after a day was completely washed out by rain. Morkel believed that at the Supersport Park the result is still on the card despite the Day 3 was ended early due to rain and bad light.

"I think definitely a result is very much possible. If they get some early wickets tomorrow, or if we can bat through the first session while not losing many wickets, the game will still be very open. Off the top of my head, I think maybe 250 on Day 5 will be a safe target. With the wicket now turning a little bit and keeping a little bit low, I think 250 can be a very good score,” he added.

In the front of the South African pace attack which features Morkel, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, and Lungi Ngidi, Kohli again proved why he considered as one of the best batsmen in the world. He scored his 21st century as he became the first Indian and overall fifth captain to complete his century in Centurion. All the four captains were from South Africa as Kohli joined the list with Shaun Pollock (2001), Greame Smith (2004), Hashim Amla (2014), and Faf du Plessis (2016).

"Virat is very competitive. They are over here to compete and they've got a team that could potentially beat South Africa for the first time here. That's his nature. "It gets him going and keeps him going. We're well aware of that but we don't take any notice of it. And if you get a batsman of his quality, you've got time to adjust. Bowling certain lengths, certain lines, we've got that small window to make a play. To keep him quiet on this sort of surface, we have to bowl as many dot balls as possible," Morkel said.

With the lead of 28 runs, South Africa needed a good start to take the advantage in the game but Jasprit Bumrah, playing the second Test of his career, turned the game on its head as he claimed two wickets with just three runs on the board.

"Bumrah has got the perfect action for this sort of wicket. He is very skiddy. Talking to our batters and doing some preparation before the Test match, we've got our game plans."

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