Cape Town: The highly anticipated three-match Test series is going to get underway in a few hours time as the top two Test teams would battle it out in a clash of titans at the Newlands in Cape Town Friday.
All this while, Virat Kohli and his men have steamrolled over the opposition in Tests and have done so on a consistent basis. The other thing that’s consistent too has been the home conditions where India have thrived against opposition like England, Australia and South Africa (in 2015).
When South Africa announced the squad for the series, they made sure that their best pace-bowling attack is on the list and so, Dale Steyn, who had been out with an injury has been handed a comeback. Thus, the four-pronged pace attack-Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander would be seen in action and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Indian batsmen struggle. Also, Keshav Maharaj is likely to feature in the playing XI as the sole spinner.
But the statistics tell a different story. The likes of Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane were the best batsmen in the two-match Test series in South Africa where they scored over 200 runs each and averaged between 68 and 70, which was better than some of South Africa’s main batsmen.
Despite being winning almost everything in Test cricket of late, the Indians would be under pressure entering into the series. Faf Du Plessis, the South African skipper felt that this series would be the perfect opportunity for them to exact revenge for the 2015 series in India.
This series would be a huge test for Kohli and his men if they have to stamp their authority on international cricket and shed that tag of being only, ‘home bullies.’
Although it indeed is India’s best ever squad to have toured the, ‘Rainbow Nation’ the Proteas aren’t any less. Bolstered by the return of two big names-AB De Villiers and Dale Steyn, the Proteas would be raring to take the field and put up a classic contest against Virat Kohli’s men who are yet to be tested in South African conditions.
Ravindra Jadeja still remains doubtful for the match while India would want to have someone like Rohit Sharma bat at number six. The opening combination would be decided before the match but with Dhawan fit to play, he is most likely to feature in the playing XI alongside Murali Vijay. Also, Ajinkya Rahane would be the man to watch out for after a series of poor performances at home. He needs to put up a good show in the middle-order to increase India’s chances of victory.
Thus this series has all the ingredients for a classic. Two quality oppositions, some top class cricketers and the number one team being put to test in alien conditions. Earlier, Philander had expressed his doubts over India’s preparations for the series but the men in blue have always maintained that they are up for this new challenge. Will Indian reign supreme in Test cricket once again?
Probable playing XI (India)- Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan/KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami.
Probable playing XI (South Africa)-Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Vernon Philander, Chris Morris/Andile Phehlukwayo, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel.
Match would start at 2:00 pm IST.