Virat Kohli & Co. will be up for a tough battle when facing the South African pacers once again at Centurion in the second Test match starting Saturday.
After succumbing in Cape Town and failing to draw first blood, India already see themselves trailing 1-0 down in the 3-match series. India haven’t enjoyed success in any of their previous away tours in South Africa and this time too the start hasn’t been a desired one. Therefore, it is all about avoiding another defeat at Centurion as that will hand over the series to the Proteas.
|VENUE||Matches||India (wins)||South Africa (wins)|
Selection headache and Team news
Going into this essential game, the Indian team management have a lot of headache in getting their selection spot-on. There were a few surprise inclusions in the first Test and that did not pay off fully. The decision to drop vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane was indeed a bold one by Virat Kohli but his exclusion hurt the side given his performances overseas.
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India went in with five proper batsmen in the opening Test and this time it will be interesting to see whether Kohli employs the same tactics or changes direction. Despite Rohit Sharma’s twin failure, the management will likely be keeping faith in him and he could come in at No. 6 after Rahane, provided the latter gets a nod.
India will want to get their opening crisis sorted with scores of 16 and 30 not deemed good enough. With Murali Vijay the obvious choice, Kohli could either opt for KL Rahul rather than Shikhar Dhawan this time. Also Parthiv Patel could get a look in as he can keep the opening slot and maintain the left-right hand combination atop. He can also replace Wriddhiman Saha to add Rahul in the middle order.
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The bowlers on the other hand had a good outing and the same trio of pacers may be kept. Ishant Sharma though has a possibility to come in this time. Meanwhile, South Africa will go in with four pacers once again and in the absence of Dale Steyn, they have plenty of options to fill up the role. All-rounder Chris Morris could come in as the best bet in the side.
Conditions could be daunting
India faced hostile situations on a green top in the Cape Town Test and despite a good show with the ball, some moments on the field and poor outing with the bat hurt them. The Proteas bowlers enjoyed their spells and it looks like there could be another difficult task on offer when the side comes out at the SuperSport Park in Centurion.
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Pace and bounce will await the tourists once again and with the form Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada showed at Newlands, they will be gunning for the Indian batsmen this time too. Also there will be movement. Centurion has been a happy hunting ground for the Proteas. The only Test they lost here in recent times was against Australia back in 2014, where Mitchell Johnson wrecked havoc for the hosts with terrific pace.
What is there for the spinners?
India’s Ravichandran Ashwin and South Africa’s Keshav Maharaj were hardly given the ball at Newlands. Ashwin bowled just 7.1 overs and took two wickets in the first innings. In the second, he got a solitary over as the pacers did the job. Similar scenario was for his counterpart Maharaj, who got a total of just 10 overs across two innings, and he did not manage a scalp.
As mentioned above, that the Centurion pitch will offer more pace and bounce, both teams will be eager to do most of the talking with the quicks on offer. So with Hardik Pandya to be used as the fourth seamer, will India still deploy a spinner, or go in for a batsman in Ashwin’s place? Ashwin looked good while bowling at Newlands, but since there could be nothing on offer once again, Kohli could be tempted to think otherwise.
Batsmen need to fire
Both teams will be wanting to have a good show with the bat after not being up to the mark at Newlands. Pandya’s 93 was the highest overall and despite the challenges on offer this time too, the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara and Kohli for India, besides Hashim Amla and Dean Elgar for the Proteas will be hungry for runs. Them coming good will add a suitable cushion.
India: 1 M Vijay, 2 Shikhar Dhawan/KL Rahul, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Virat Kohli (capt), 5 Ajinkya Rahane, 6 Rohit Sharma 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 9 Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Mohammed Shami
South Africa: 1 Dean Elgar, 2 Aiden Markram, 3 Hashim Amla, 4 Faf du Plessis (capt), 5 AB de Villiers/Temba Bavuma 6 Quinton de Kock (wk), 7 Andile Phehlukwayo/Chris Morris, 8 Vernon Philander, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Keshav Maharaj
Time (IST): 2:00 pm
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