Strauss ready to face Steyn onslaught

Updated: 25 December 2009 12:42 IST

Andrew Strauss was confident in the ability of his batsmen to deal with what is likely to be an improved South African bowling attack in the second Test.

Strauss ready to face Steyn onslaught

Durban:

England captain Andrew Strauss said on Thursday he was confident in the ability of his batsmen to deal with what is likely to be an improved South African bowling attack in the second Test starting at Kingsmead on Saturday.

Fast bowler Dale Steyn, who was ruled out of the drawn first Test at Centurion shortly before the start because of a hamstring injury, is set to return, while Jacques Kallis is likely to feature as a bowler as well as a batsman after a rib injury restricted him to just three overs on the final day at Centurion.

The weather could be a factor in Durban, where rain is predicted at some stage during all five days, but the pitch looked in good condition on Thursday. It is expected to be hard and provide more consistent bounce than was the case in the first Test.

Strauss said of Steyn: "I respect him as a bowler. He's the kind of skiddy bowler who sometimes you can score off but obviously he bowls wicket-taking balls.

"But if he is a bit rusty and bowls a few loose balls it's important to put them away and put him under pressure."

Responding to South African captain Graeme Smith's assertion that the hosts played the better cricket in the first Test, when England's last wicket pair needed to bat out the last 20 balls to earn a draw, Strauss said the pressure could be on South Africa. "It can be pretty dispiriting getting a side nine wickets down and not winning."

But Strauss admitted that England needed to play better than they did in the opening encounter.

Kingsmead has a reputation for helping the bowlers in the early part of a match before flattening out.

The three previous Test matches between South Africa and England at Kingsmead have been drawn.

Rain spoiled the clash in 1995/96 and the next two matches both featured high scores in the third innings, with Gary Kirsten scoring 275 after South Africa were forced to follow on in 1999/2000 and England scoring 570 for seven declared after trailing by 193 runs five years ago.

Strauss was one of three England century-makers on the latter occasion.

Teams have several times gone into Kingsmead Tests without picking a spin bowler but it is unlikely this time, with off-spinners Paul Harris and Graham Swann having been the most successful bowlers for South Africa and England in the first Test.

While Steyn is expected to replace Friedel de Wet in the South African team, England are likely to be unchanged, with Strauss saying he had confidence in the current mix of six specialist batsmen and only four bowlers. Although he said England needed to be flexible.

Likely teams:

South Africa: Graeme Smith (captain), Ashwell Prince, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Mark Boucher (wkt), Paul Harris, Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini.

England: Andrew Strauss (captain), Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Ian Bell, Matt Prior (wkt), Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Graham Onions.

Umpires: Aleem Dar (PAK), Amish Saheba (IND).

TV umpire: Steve Davis (AUS).

Match referee: Roshan Mahanama (SRI).

Topics : Cricket Andrew Strauss
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