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HomeIndia2nd Test Preview: Chance for South Africa to wrap up series

2nd Test Preview: Chance for South Africa to wrap up series

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Last Updated on 6 years by Charbel Coorey

If you watched India for the first time in Cape Town, you would have been shocked to know they’ve won nine Test series in a row and are the number one Test team. Nothing came as a surprise in Cape Town – India’s bowlers have shown they have really improved, and India’s batsmen, thanks significantly to the BCCI’s arrogance and poor scheduling, suffered in conditions very different to the subcontinent. Also, I’m not sure how clearly Virat Kohli and the Indian management are thinking at the moment, with Ajinkya Rahane apparently not even considered for the first Test, despite his fantastic away record.

What a joke.

Anyway, South Africa, despite winning the Test, have concerns of their own. They were three down within five overs, and then lost their 10 wickets for 78 runs in their second innings, to put India right in with a chance of winning. Their bowling, though, even without Dale Steyn, was brilliant and masterful, with Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel and the new number one Test bowler, Kagiso Rabada, all in superb form.

How do India go about countering South Africa’s quality? With the first Test of the tour under their belt, they would hopefully feel a little more accustomed to the conditions, and will need to focus really heavily on how well they leave the ball. There have been plenty of comments floating around about India’s need to score quicker and play riskier shots. This couldn’t be more dangerous – discipline and hunger to spend time at the crease is most important.

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The same applies for South Africa. More will be expected from their top three, and will hope to see AB De Villiers and Faf Du Plessis continue the good form they showed at times in Cape Town. The second Test may very well come down to who bats better, on a pitch expected to be a little better for batting thanks to the hot conditions which has dried out the pitch.

Key to a South Africa win

The bowlers are in amazing form, but the batting is a concern.
Dean Elgar looked very uncomfortable in Cape Town, and Aiden Markram threw his wicket away when he looked really good in the second innings. These two need to ensure they give Hashim Amla a good platform to walk into, as India will really fancy their chances against Amla early on. 
South Africa can put India under huge pressure with runs on the board. You just need to ask yourself – look what South Africa did to India with a smallish total to defend, imagine what they could do with runs on the board? The onus will be on the top five.

Key to an India win

It was easy to see what let India down in the first Test.
The Centurion pitch, though, looks like it will be nicer to bat on for both teams. The key for India is to display the patience and hunger required to counter a potent South African bowling attack. KL Rahul will likely come in for Shikhar Dhawan, which is the right move, and despite the possibility India may not pick Ajinkya Rahane, their batting line up still looks very solid indeed.
Also, the pitch may take turn later in the game, which may bring Ravichandran Ashwin into the game. With runs on the board, and India’s improved pace attack, this is a huge opportunity for India to potentially take advantage of.

Much will be expected of these two.

Predicted teams

In my South African XI for the 2nd Test, I felt Temba Bavuma should play to provide that extra bit of batting cover. However, it is more likely that either Chris Morris or Lungi Ngidi will get the nod as the seam bowling all-rounder. With the pitch also expected to be drier than usual, Keshav Maharaj will potentially have a big role to play.
South Africa XI: 1. Dean Elgar, 2. Aiden Markram, 3. Hashim Amla, 4. AB De Villiers, 5. Faf Du Plessis (c), 6. Quinton De Kock (wk), 7. Lungi Ngidi, 8. Vernon Philander, 9. Keshav Maharaj, 10. Kagiso Rabada, 11. Morne Morkel
For India, if Rohit Sharma plays, there will be pressure on him to perform, considering Ajinkya Rahane really should be in the side. I expect India to go with KL Rahul over Shikhar Dhawan, stick with Wriddhiman Saha, as well as stick with the same bowling attack. Hardik Pandya’s super performance in Cape Town will mean more of a focus on him to see how he follows up.
India XI: 1. KL Rahul, 2. Murali Vijay, 3. Cheteshwar Pujara, 4. Virat Kohli (c), 5. Rohit Sharma, 6. Ravichandran Ashwin, 7. Hardik Pandya, 8. Wriddhimann Saha (wk), 9. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10. Mohammed Shami, 11. Jasprit Bumrah

Stats and Facts:

  • Every subcontinent side that has played a Test at Centurion has lost by an innings.
  • South Africa have won their last four Tests, whereas India have won their last nine Test series.
  • In 22 Tests at Centurion, South Africa have only lost twice – v England in 2000 and Australia in 2014.
  • Ajinkya Rahane’s averages in Tests: Home: 33.63. Away: 53.44
  • Hashim Amla at Centurion: 11 Tests, 1,202 runs, avg. 80.13. I back the mighty Hash to come back into the runs in this Test.

Prediction:

The weather will be very hot in Centurion, and will definitely help dry out the pitch even further, which may suit India. I believe India’s batting will fare better than was the case in the first Test, even though they will really miss the quality of Ajinkya Rahane if they don’t select him.
However, looking at South Africa’s record at the ground, their bowlers, as well as the fact that India will still be finding their feet in South African conditions, I think South Africa will win and take the series.
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Charbel Coorey
Charbel Cooreyhttps://cricblog.net
Charbel is the owner & founder of cricblog.net, based in Sydney, Australia. He started the website to fulfill his love for the game of cricket. Charbel has also been featured on other publications including OP India, Times of India, and The Roar, among others. For any story tips or questions, you can contact Charbel at charbelcoorey@cricblog.net.

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