Newlands track would favour batsmen, says curator

Cape Town: The pitch for the series-deciding third cricket Test between India and South Africa starting here on Sunday would favour batsmen and last all five days, according to the curator of the Newlands ground.

The series is currently tied 1-1 after India won the second Test in Durban by 87 runs, following the humiliating innings and 25 runs defeat in the first match in Centurion.

"The pitch won`t change too much from previous years. The match will be played on a good pitch that will last five days," said Evan Flint, Newlands curator.

The Newlands pitch is supposed to be more batsman friendly than the pitches for the first two Tests and a high scoring contest is very much on the cards.

It has the highest average score of 338.2 for any ground in the country that has hosted more than one Test. That`s close to 24 runs more than the average score at next-highest run-scoring ground in South Africa, Kingsmead in Durban.

Both the Centurion and Durban tracks favoured the bowlers initially and caused problems for batsmen to adjust on a lively pitch. But, according to Flint, the conditions in Newlands will be vastly different.

"I would love to get the same bounce as grounds like SuperSport Park and the Wanderers. The type of bounce we get is different; it`s more of a tennis-ball bounce," Flint said.

The curator said this ground offered more of a traditional South African Test-match wicket that was good for batting, particularly on days two and three and turned in favour of the spinners on days four and five.

"I would like to create a surface that South Africa can get a good result on, but I`ve just got to do the best I can, and hopefully South Africa can play to their strengths," he said.

There is still a bit of work to do on the surface because the weather has not assisted Flint as much as he hoped it would.

"It`s still not 100 per cent, which is a little bit disappointing. It`s been very windy and quite cloudy; a bit cooler than usual, but we still need another really good day of sun," he said.

South Africa have won 14 out of 21 Tests at Newlands since readmission and lost just three, all against Australia. South Africa have beaten India twice in Cape Town, most recently in 2007. On that occasion, the match was also a series decider and South Africa`s victory allowed them to clinch the series 2-1.