Ends: Pavilion End, Hennops River End
Home Team: Titans
Test History: 21 Tests; 16 home wins; 2 away wins; 3 draws
Within easy access of both Pretoria and Johannesburg, SuperSport Park is the home of the Titans franchise in South Africa’s domestic competitions
The major attraction for spectators visiting the 22,000-capacity venue is the grass embankments which provide for a friendly, family atmosphere. The main grand stand, with its spacious seating, stands alone at the Pavilion End – with corporate chalets dotted behind the sloping embankments.
The venue, formerly known as Centurion Park, is renowned for its fast-paced track and the small, carpet-like outfield makes for brisk run-scoring. While traditionally known as a seamer-friendly wicket, the pitch has provided assistance to spin bowling in recent times.
Situated on South Africa’s highveld, SuperSport Park is a stronghold for the Proteas, with the home side having lost just once in 18 Tests, a defeat with an asterisk hovering over it given the subsequent match-fixing revelations.
The ground has played host to a number of notable tournaments, including the 2003 World Cup, the Champions Trophy final in 2009 as well as key Champions League T20 fixtures.
Last Time Out
The Proteas made a big first innings total of 481/8 declared on the back of an unbeaten ton from Faf du Plessis against the Black Caps in 2016.
New Zealand struggled to 214 all out with all the pacemen among the wickets and Kagiso Rabada 3/62 the pick.
A fifty from Quinton de Kock helped the Proteas set a target that was defendable though there total of 132 for 7 was not flattering.
A Steyn five-fer then knocked New Zealand over for 195 to seal a 204 run win.
Groundsman Bryan Bloy explained the brown grass on the pitch to ESPN Cricinfo: “You need a little bit of grass to assist the ball but when its 37 degrees in the build-up, everything is tricky.
“We don’t have a lot of live grass, but there is a lot of grass.”
Bloy also asserted that his main focus was ensuring bounce and pace in the wicket saying: “On the Highveld, conditions allow for bouncy wickets. That’s our strength at SuperSport Park and we try to play to our strength. This is the Highveld and these are the kinds of wickets we prepare.”
Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis was concerned that the ball may turn in the thick brown grass covering the strip: “Generally Centurion doesn’t spin that much, but there is a thick layer of brown grass on it, which is not something we’re used to seeing.
“So it’s an unknown. Hopefully it doesn’t turn. To get the conditions that we would like, the ball must spin as little as possible.”
Happy Hunting Ground
Hashim Amla (1202) and AB de Villiers (1157) are both in a position to move past Jacques Kallis’ all-time Test runs record at Supersport Park which stands at 1267.
Morne Morkel has 28 wickets in seven matches at the venue putting him ahead of the current squad members in terms of Test wickets at the venue.
Only Ishant Sharma has previously played a Test at Centurion out of the India squad.
It is expected to be sunny and hot throughout the Test but you can never rule out a highveld thunder storm.
This could be the best batting strip of the series it would be foolish to do anything other than bat first if you have won the toss.
The attempt to leave more grass on the pitch could backfire resulting in a surface that India find easier to play on.
Who would be a groundsman during this series?
Bowlers will have to work hard for their wickets while batsmen who can handle steep bounce will flourish.