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Statistical Analysis: A Look At India’s Middle-order For The Test Series Against South Africa

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The Indian Test team will hope their middle order batsmen put in the fight against South Africa, when they two sides meet in a three-match Test series starting January 5. After all the success at home in the last two seasons, the Indian team will be eyeing to carry the momentum overseas and produce something special in a country where they are yet to win a Test series.
As compared to the Indian teams of the past that visited South Africa, the current crop of players in the side look like having a realistic chance to do something positive. Virat Kohli’s side boasts of some solid Test batsmen in their ranks and their job will be a testing task when they take on a ferocious looking Proteas line-up. With Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn back from injuries, SA look daunting and the in-form duo of Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada will not make life any simple for Kohli’s troops.
The conditions in South Africa is a different prospect altogether and memories haven’t been that pleasant. But Kohli will know he has the ammunition in the middle order that can keep them in the game. A lot will depend on the batsmen’s intelligence and shot-making especially with tours to England and Australia awaiting as the year progresses.
India cancelled their pre-tour practice match to focus more on the net sessions and will be trying to work on various aspects to handle the South African pacers once the series starts. Proteas pacers gave a glimpse of what is in store for India after sailing past Zimbabwe in under two days recently and they too will be knowing that this time the battle will be utmost difficult against the No. 1 Test side led by Kohli.
Here is an analysis of the India’s middle order batsmen and the attributes they possess.
Cheteshwar Pujara: The Saurashtra batsman has been pivotal for India in that middle order amassing runs aplenty over the years. Majority of his runs have come at home, with only Sri Lanka being a place where he found solace. Outside the sub-continent Pujara has often struggled barring the previous tour to South Africa. His enormous patience will be a key in wearing down the bowlers and there is a lot of maturity in his game now. He will hope to prove he can handle the best away from home.

  1. Against SA away, he has 311 runs from 4 matches with an average of 44.42
  2. Best score outside the sub-continent is 153 against South Africa at Johannesburg.
  Home (Avg) Away (Avg) Overall (Avg)
C Pujara 62.97 38.52 52.96
  Runs (Home) Runs (Away) Overall Runs
C Pujara 3086 1310 4396

Virat Kohli: The skipper will be spearheading the batting once again at that No. 4 position. He is the side’s best bet against a quality Proteas attack. His glaring performance in Australia where he smashed three tons back in 2014-15 will be back of his mind in the conditions here. Kohli had been in the form of his life in the last Test assignment against Sri Lanka at home in Nov-Dec 2017. Though the atmosphere is very different now, Proteas know that Kohli will be the biggest thorn who could hurt them.

  1. Against SA away, he has 272 runs from 2 matches with an average of 68.00
  2. Best score outside the sub-continent is 200 against West Indies at NorthSound.
  3. Has scored 1 century (119) in South Africa in 2013.
  Home (Avg) Away (Avg) Overall (Avg)
Virat Kohli 63.50 45.13 53.75
Runs (Home) Runs (Away) Overall Runs
Virat Kohli 2921 2347 5268
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Ajinkya Rahane: He has cemented that No. 5 place in the side and will know that a big innings is long due. Rahane hasn’t been quite in song with only just a solitary ton in 2017, and also a series to forget against the Lankans recently. The team management has backed him though and Rahane knows he is just an innings away to regain the confidence. His record overseas is impressive than at home, and he will want to show his mettle this time.

  1. Against SA away, he has 209 runs from 2 matches with an average of 69.66
  2. Best score away outside the sub-continent is 147 against Australia at Melbourne.
  Home (Avg) Away (Avg) Overall (Avg)
A Rahane 33.63 53.44 44.15
Runs (Home) Runs (Away) Overall Runs
A Rahane 1009 1817 2826

Rohit Sharma: With the form he has been in ODIs and T20Is, its no surprise that the star player was called for duty in this tour. Rohit was exceptional in the two Tests he played against the Lankans and he could be a key figure in that No. 6 position. Given that he hasn’t played much Tests for India, Rohit will be hungry to get runs and showcase his application. His last series here in 2013 was disastrous and this time around he will hope to change that against Steyn & Co.

  1. Against SA away, he has 45 runs from 2 matches with an average of 11.25
  2. Best score outside the sub-continent is 53 against Australia.
  Home (Avg) Away (Avg) Overall (Avg)
R Sharma 85.44 26.33 42.45
Runs (Home) Runs (Away) Overall Runs
R Sharma 769 632 1401

When it comes to partnerships the Indian middle order batsmen have had some decent shows as a pair. Let’s have a look at some of the best partnerships outside the sub-continent of these mentioned players.
Pujara and Kohli: Runs 222 against South Africa at Johannesburg in 2013
Kohli and Rahane: Runs 262 against Australia at Melbourne in 2014
Kohli and Rahane: Runs 101 against Australia at Adelaide in 2014

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