SA vs Ind, 3rd Test: Virat Kohli's men eye historic series win at Newlands
- India won the first Test in Centurion by 113 runs
- South Africa bounced back with a 7-wicket win in Johannesburg
- Virat Kohli will return to the Indian side after missing the second Test
The equation of the ongoing Test series between South Africa and India is hanging in the balance after both sides registered a win each in the last two matches. Now, the third Test in Cape Town, starting Tuesday, is going to decide the series.
India will be buoyant by their captain Virat Kohli’s return to the XI as the boys look to create history in Cape Town by winning their maiden Test series in South Africa. The hosts, South Africa, will definitely fancy their chances after a fighting performance drew them level in the second Test.
And playing his 99th Test on what will also be his daughter's first birthday, the batter in Kohli would like to make it a special one for the 'Captain', who has been under tremendous pressure of late.
Kohli's presence can unsettle Proteas
Whether he is batting or is in the field, Kohli's presence can always be unsettling for the opposition, which is bound to plan differently for him even if it means that he hasn't got a hundred for two years.
Hanuma Vihari might feel hard done after two fighting knocks—especially the 40 not out in the second innings in Johannesburg—but such is the nature of the beast that he would be the sacrificial lamb till Team India regains its faith in Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane's abilities.
However, it will also be about the deliveries that he or some of the others would choose for particular kinds of shots.
A case in point is Rishabh Pant, whose walking down the track against express pace in recent months, has had a lot of "intent" but not much of "content".
On a Newlands track, which will be juicy with variable bounce, India will need to bat way better against Kagiso Rabada, Duanne Olivier, Lungi Ngidi and Marco Jansen, all of who bring different skills to the table.
India have never won a Test in Cape Town and for a change in script, the three middle-order veterans need to do way more than what they did at the Wanderers.
Pujara and Rahane need to show consistency
Pujara and Rahane, with their respective half-centuries, did get a lifeline but that will certainly not be enough to save their careers unless they do something very big and significant.
If getting fifties was a positive sign, not converting good starts into big hundreds definitely was disappointing. Similarly, KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal would also like to give the team a good start against the fiery South African line-up.
Ishant set for comeback
Ishant Sharma, like Pujara and Rahane, is at the business end of his chequered international career and Mohammed Siraj's hamstring injury is sure to give him some breathing space after the indifferent last six months during which he lost form, had niggles and didn't good enough to be in the mix for long.
Yet, the nature of South African tracks and his over 6 feet frame, with ability to bowl maiden after maiden, makes him a better choice than Umesh Yadav, who is a similar bullish workhorse.
But it will be Jasprit Bumrah, who would like to improve his strike-rate which has gone down since he has come back from his back injury.
Dean Elgar, Rassie van der Dussen and Temba Bavuma were not perturbed by his mindless short-pitched bowling and the Indian slinger would like to do what he does best, bowl fast and full with deliveries deviating on both sides of the track. That would go a long way in ensuring that they have a great party on Table Top after January 15.
India: Virat Kohli (captain), KL Rahul (vc), Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Jayant Yadav, Priyank Panchal, Umesh Yadav, Hanuma Vihari, Ishant Sharma.
South Africa: Dean Elgar (captain), Temba Bavuma (vice-captain), 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, Duanne Olivier.