Capetown (January 05, 2018): India’s status as the world’s number one Test team will face a fierce examination when they come up against second-ranked South Africa in their three-Test series which starts at Newlands on Friday.
South Africa will be banking on their formidable fast bowling attack to dismantle India’s strong batting line-up but after nine successive Test series wins India are brimming with confidence — and a belief that they can thrive in any conditions.Six of India’s winning series were played at home and the others — two in Sri Lanka and one in the West Indies — were in conditions where fast bowling was not a major factor.
The last time India lost a series was when they were beaten 2-0 in Australia in a four-match contest in 2014-15 but it was a series which showed India’s batsmen could stand up to raw pace on hard, bouncy pitches.India have a poor record in South Africa, losing five out of six series with one drawn, and winning only two out of 17 Test matches against eight defeats and seven draws.
They scored more than 400 in each of their first innings, losing the first two Tests before drawing the last two.Virat Kohli hit four centuries in that series and it marked the start of his captaincy, initially in a stand-in capacity in two of the Tests in Australia but afterwards on a full-time basis when M.S. Dhoni retired from Test cricket.India have a poor record in South Africa, losing five out of six series with one drawn, and winning only two out of 17 Test matches against eight defeats and seven draws.
Significantly, though, they have pushed South Africa hard on their two most recent tours, in 2010-11 and 2013-14, sharing the first series and narrowly losing the second.
For the first time in more than a year, South Africa have all their key bowlers fit, while the returning A.B. de Villiers needs to be slotted into what has been a settled batting middle order. India have a poor record in South Africa, losing five out of six series with one drawn, and winning only two out of 17 Test matches against eight defeats and seven draws.
They scored more than 400 in each of their first innings, losing the first two Tests before drawing the last two.“There are so many combinations,” said du Plessis. “It is the hardest team selection I’ve been involved in. We have so many different options, we can almost pick different teams for different venues.”
Although coach Ottis Gibson indicated that it was unlikely Dale Steyn would be part of the fast bowling line-up after a long injury break, du Plessis said the former world number one bowler had lost none of his skill.
SOUTH AFRICA: Faf du Plessis (captain), Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, A.B. de Villiers, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Theunis de Bruyn, Vernon Philander, Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel.
INDIA: Virat Kohli (captain), Murali Vijay, Lokesh Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit,Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Parthiv Patel, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah.
Umpires: Michael Gough (England) and Richard Kettleborough (England).
TV umpire: Paul Reiffel (Australia).
Match referee: Chris Broad (England).
Published in Dawn, January 5th, 2018