into the contest after thumping New Zealand 1-0 on home turf and the experts believe it’s a great chance for Kohli & Co to script history in the Rainbow Nation.
India have never won a Test series in South Africa. Out of 7 series played here, the hosts have six while one ended in a tie. Overall, the visitors have won just three games out of 20 played against the Proteas. And this around, with a terrific mix of players, the visitors look to start afresh.
On paper, India have got the arsenal to match South Africa in terms of pace line-up. Since the tour of 2018, Jasprit Bumrah’s stocks have risen in Test cricket, followed by Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma with Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur completing the hexagon of India’s world-class pace attack.
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But the main concerns of the Indian team have been in batting, with captain Virat Kohli and senior pros Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane in the middle of a lean patch.
In the recent home series against New Zealand, India were majorly bailed out of trouble by newbie Shreyas Iyer in Kanpur and opener Mayank Agarwal in Mumbai.
With Rohit Sharma out of the series due to a left hamstring injury, the batters have to put their best foot forward.
South Africa, on the other hand, will be playing a Test match for the first time since playing two matches against West Indies in June. Though the hosts’ batting might has been depleted by the retirements of AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis, captain Dean Elgar is still there with Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen for company.
But they will have more batting concerns in terms of experience with wicketkeeper-batter Quinton de Kock only available for the first Test before going on paternity leave.
In the Proteas’ favour, Centurion has been a fortress, just like the Gabba has been for Australia. In 26 Tests at the venue, South Africa have won 21 times and faced defeat only twice, against England in 2000 and Australia in 2014.
But with them and India having pockets of weakness in batting, one can say that the series could be decided by runs and to some extent, the ability to dismiss the batters quickly.
South Africa: Dean Elgar (captain), Temba Bavuma (vice-captain), Quinton de Kock (wicket-keeper), Kagiso Rabada, Sarel Erwee, Beuran Hendricks, George Linde, Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder, Keegan Petersen, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne, Marco Jansen, Glenton Stuurman, Prenelan Subrayen, Sisanda Magala, Ryan Rickelton and Duanne Olivier.
India: Virat Kohli (captain), KL Rahul (vice-captain), Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Siraj.
(With Agency Inputs)
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