India’s mission to win the first-ever Test series on South Africa begins in a couple of days. The action begins on Boxing Day in Centurion when a high-in-confidence Team India will lock horns with the Proteas. The visitors look strong on paper, given the dependable opening options and a lethal world-class bowling unit. There’s a bit of a concern with the inconsistent middle-order and it’s going to be a test for the newly-appointed head coach Rahul Dravid if he can bring the much-needed stability with his vast experience.
Experts believe that India have a golden opportunity to script history. The current South African team doesn’t feature any of the big names but yet they cannot be taken lightly. All-in-all it’s going to be a cracker of a contest but before that, let’s have a look at the players to watch out for from both teams.
Indian players to watch out for
Mohammad Shami: The right-arm quick scalped had picked 15 wickets in the previous tour in 20218 and since then, he has established himself as the most dependable Test bowler. Considering the pace on offer in South Africa, Shami is as dangerous as any premium fast bowler and the Proteas need to beware of him.
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Shreyas Iyer: His career is just two Tests old and he’s already in contention to be inducted into the final XI. Iyer was impressive in his approach at home. The way he batted against a star-studded New Zealand makes him an automatic selection in the line-up. Probably, he can be trusted to bring the wobbling middle-order back on track.
Jasprit Bumrah: After Shami, Bumrah was the second-highest wicket-taker during India’s 2018 tour. The right-arm pacer was a youngster then, who has turned into the leader of the pack. The South Africa side has already spoken of a few good things about the Indian pacer. But deep down inside, they also know how threatening the bowler could be.
Mayank Agarwal: The Karnataka batsman managed to consolidate his position in the Test side after a magnificent hundred in the Mumbai Test against New Zealand. He has certainly got his mojo back and is the front runner to open the innings for India with vice-captain KL Rahul. The duo made their respective Test debuts at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and now, they are pretty excited to do some great work together in South Africa.
South Africa players to watch out for:
Dean Elgar: The Proteas skipper is the most experienced in the mix. With more than 4000 runs in his kitty, Elgar highlights the South African batting unit. At home, he has staggering stats playing against India; 207 runs from 6 innings and an average of 41.40. This year, Elgar has been in great form, scoring 364 runs in 5 Tests. He has also scored a hundred and two half-centuries in 2021 so far.
Quinton de Kock: The South African wicketkeeper-batsman who is known for his fearless batting. De Kock doesn’t have an impressive record against India but not to forget his hundred that came in Vishakhapatnam in 2019. But currently, he is in a better space. He scored his career-best – 141 – against West Indies in June this year and would like to carry in the same momentum against India.
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Kagiso Rabada: Since Anrich Nortje will be missing out on the tour, it will be Rabada who’s going to lead the pace unit. The right-arm quick has played just four Tests this year and scalped 16 wickets at an average of 20.18. Back in 2018, he was one of the wrecker-in-chiefs for the hosts as he picked up 15 wickets in 3 Tests. He would be quite a weapon for the Proteas.
Duanne Olivier: The pacer is going to make a comeback after a hiatus of three years and will assist Rabada in pace-bowling duties. Olivier comes into the series after an impressive domestic stint where he took 28 wickets in the season, averaging only 11.14. He has an impeccable bowling record at home – 41 wickets in 8 Tests – which makes him a special player.
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