Cape Town: From India’s dominance in Centurion to South Africa’s fightback in Johannesburg, the three-match series is set for a decider in Cape Town on January 11.
India’s hopes of winning a first Test series in South Africa are still alive and now the returnof captain Virat Kohli will further strengthen the team’s case to script history.
Although there were predictions that India will not only win the series but sweep it 3-0, South Africa came from behind to force a decider in their backyard. The visitors will still head into the third match as favourites, having breached fortresses in Australia (Gabba after 32 years), won at Lord’s and at the Oval (after 50 years) and recently at Centurion.
India need to address whom should they pick between Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma as Mohammed Siraj is unfit for the contest. The middle order, which is always under the scanner,looks sorted with seasoned campaigners Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane performing under immense pressure in the second match.
With the likes of Shardul Thakur and Ravichandran Ashwin, the tail also looks pretty decent asboth are capable to add crucial runs towards the end. However, the major concern is the battingof Kohli and wicket-keeper batter Rishabh Pant.
Kohli twice gave away his wicket while chasing a delivery wide outside the off in the first match,while Pant faced criticism for not timing his shot. The wicket-keeper batter played a wild slogand invited critics, including former cricketer Sunil Gavaskar.
While the head coach Rahul Dravid ensured that he will have a conversation with Pant, Kohli, ina press conference on the eve of the match, stated that the matter was addressed during at raining session.
The third and final Test marks a special day in Jasprit Bumrah’s career as the fast bowler returns to the stadium, where his international red-ball game began in 2018.
On the other hand, South Africa’s attack demonstrated their plans well against the top-order. With Kagiso Rabada leading the charge and Marco Jansen picking wickets, the hosts kept Indiaon the back foot. Their captain Dean Elgar led from the front and pushed for the decider.
Along with Elgar, Temba Bavuma is another batter who has been frustrating India in this series. Bavuma’s temperament and class gives South Africa confidence in their middle-order.
India and South Africa have met 41 times in Test cricket since the readmission of the latter in1992, with South Africa leading the head-to-head record 16-15. In South Africa, the head-to-headrecord is 11-4 in the favour of the hosts. This is the 15th Test series between India and SouthAfrica with the latter leading 7-4.
India: KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, RishabhPant (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah,Mohammed Siraj, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Jayant Yadav, Hanuma Vihari, Priyank Panchal, Shreyas Iyer, Wriddhiman Saha.
South Africa: Dean Elgar (c), Aiden Markram, Keegan Petersen, Rassie van der Dussen, TembaBavuma, Kyle Verreynne (wk), Wiaan Mulder, Marco Jansen, Kagiso Rabada, Keshav Maharaj,Lungi Ngidi, Prenelan Subrayen, Beuran Hendricks, Duanne Olivier, Sisanda Magala, GeorgeLinde, Sarel Erwee, Ryan Rickelton, Glenton Stuurman.
The match starts at 2 PM IST.