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5 big predictions for South Africa v India

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Last Updated on 6 years by Charbel Coorey

2018 will start off with a high profile Test series! India’s number one Test ranking will be put to the test in away conditions against a South Africa side with plenty to prove. This is arguably Virat Kohli’s toughest test as captain so far.

However, I’m concerned about India’s chances…

They have not spent enough time acclimatising to the South African conditions, after playing all their cricket, except for the Champions Trophy and a limited overs WI tour, in the subcontinent in 2017. Instead of playing tour matches in South Africa preparing for the Tests, they spent their time bashing Sri Lanka at home in limited overs cricket, which is far from ideal preparation. Unbelievably, they even opted out of their only tour match in South Africa…

However, India do have the players, especially the batsmen, to prove me wrong. In a series which promises to be exciting, picking five big predictions is really tough, and have spent a good few days thinking about these. I will give it a go!

Here are my five predictions for the big South Africa v India Test series:

1. Leading wicket taker for the series: Kagiso Rabada

What a bowler this kid is… 
Second in the ICC Test bowlers rankings, and second in the top wicket takers for 2017, Kagiso Rabada is on a roll, and India is in his sights. Morne Morkel is arguably bowling the best he ever has, yet if Dale Steyn is fit, it would probably be him to miss out, which is testament to Rabada.
His ability to swing both the new and old ball (he possesses killer reverse swing) will be a huge test for India’s batsmen to cope with. In the first Test in Kolkata in the recent Sri Lanka series, India were blown away by Suranga Lakmal in helpful bowling conditions, and will all due respect to Lakmal, he’s no Kagiso. I think Rabada will have a huge impact on this series, so much so that he will be top wicket taker.
Kagiso… superstar.

2. Ravichandran Ashwin will average 45+ with the ball, and lack impact…

Ravichandran Ashwin is the quickest ever bowler to 300 Test wickets, but has benefited significantly from plenty of matches in home/subcontinent conditions.
220 out of his 304 Test wickets (72.37%) have been at home, and 263 (87.67%) have been in the subcontinent. Outside of Asia, he has taken 41 wickets at 42.73. Exclude the West Indies, and this becomes just 24 wickets in nine Tests at an average of 56.58. In his 42 overs that he has sent down in South Africa, he has gone wicketless, yet he averages 14.61 v South Africa across 5 Tests (4 at home). Crazy.
Ashwin is a fine off-spinner, who bowls well on turning pitches, but has yet to prove himself in foreign conditions. A high average is to be expected for a spinner in South Africa, but can he challenge the South Africa batsmen? I’m not sure, despite the likelihood that Virat Kohli will encourage attacking bowling. The question is, can Ashwin be patient enough in non-Asian conditions?
Can Ashwin prove me wrong and be a factor for India?

3. Leading run-scorer for the series: Faf Du Plessis (South Africa)

This was an extremely difficult one to choose, with both sides loaded with great batting talent.
This is a big series for the South Africa captain, who had a very tough time of things in South Africa’s tour of India in 2015. I think he will be so driven to lead his side to a win against the number one ranked team, and will lead from the front with the bat. Since that series, he has scored 1,284 runs at 53.50 and will be a key player for South Africa in the middle order.
I back him to do very well.
Nothing but respect for Faf

4. Leading run-scorer for India: Cheteshwar Pujara

Cheteshwar Pujara’s current away record doesn’t do justice to his talent.
However, he has done well in South Africa to date, and I think this will be a good series for him. His temperament and hunger for runs is something to behold. In addition, he has the tight technique required to succeed in South African conditions. Other contenders for top run scorer spot were Murali Vijay and Virat Kohli, but I think if South Africa can bowl patiently to Virat Kohli in particular, they might be able to get him out caught behind the wicket. That’s not to say he won’t have an impact on the series, but I think Pujara will be India’s best batsman.
Cheteshwar Pujara has done well in South Africa in the past.

5. Series result: South Africa 2-1 India

I believe South Africa will win this series, mainly because India will be trying to acclimatise to conditions in a Test match, rather than tour matches, which is crazy.
I think India have too much quality for this to be a 3-0 whitewash against them, and this includes their pace bowlers who I think will hold their own. However, South Africa in home conditions will be a little too much for India to handle, especially early in the series.
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Do you agree with my predictions?
One thing is for sure – it promises to be a fantastic series, with South Africa looking to avenge their 3-0 loss in extreme conditions in India in 2015. I can’t wait to see how this pans out.
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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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