India looks to conquer the final frontier while South Africa waits at Fortress Centurion – LSB

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The Big Picture: The History of India’s Hunt

The final frontier. This is what South Africa has proven for India. Since South Africa’s readmission to international cricket, India has made eight Test tours to the country. The closest they came to winning was in the 2010-11 season when the three-game series ended in a 1-1 draw.

Two years ago, players and experts alike felt that this was India’s “best chance” of winning a Test series in South Africa. They won the first game but lost the next two to waste the opportunity.

This time it’s a shorter series, just two Tests – in Centurion and Cape Town. Whichever team wins first place will have an unassailable lead. With ODI World Cup disappointment and T20 World Cup planning still in mind, can India squeeze a piece of history in between?

But as they witnessed last time, that is easier said than done. Temba Bavuma and his men will be motivated to maintain their unbeaten record at home against India. They will also be prepared to give Dean Elgar, their former captain who will retire at the end of this series, a proper send-off.

The challenge for South Africa will be to get into the Test phase as quickly as possible – they last played red-ball cricket in March. This is also their first stint in the current World Test Championship cycle. India began their Test in the West Indies, winning the first Test before rain forced a draw in the second Test.

The threat of rain looms large in Centurion as well. Rain is forecast for the first two days of testing.

Form guide

South Africa WWDLL (Last five tests, most recent first)

In the spotlight: Aiden Markram and KL Rahul

Aiden Markram is finally becoming the hitter he was destined to be. Earlier this year, he completed a shift to white-ball cricket, where he found success in the middle order. To revive his red-ball career, he tried the same in Test cricket as well. In 2022, he gave up the opening slot and moved down the order but managed just 109 runs in seven innings, at an average of 15.57. At the start of 2023, he returned to the top of the order and scored 115, 47, 96 and 18 in two Tests against the West Indies. He will be keen to build on that to become South Africa’s number one player in all three formats.

KL Rahul is going through a transformation of his own. In his latest avatar, he will be batting in the middle order and donning the wicket-keeping gloves. He has managed fourth and fifth overs in ODIs, but South Africa is not an easy place to bat. Rahul averages 25.60 in ten innings here. However, in nine of those innings, he opened the batting; A middle-order role might make things a little more comfortable. He will also have a happy memory of scoring a hundred in Centurion when India played here two years ago.

Perhaps his biggest challenge is behind the logs. While he continues to play white-ball cricket regularly, he has only done so once in first-class cricket, on a tour of England in 2021.

Team News: Shardul Thakur or R Ashwin?

Kagiso Rabada (heel contusion) and Lungi Ngidi (ankle sprain) have recovered from their injuries and should feature in the starting line-up. Keegan Pietersen was the standout player of the series when India toured South Africa, but his stock has fallen since then and he will compete with uncapped David Beddingham for a place.

South Africa (Possible): 1 Dean Elgar, 2 Aiden Markram, 3 Tony De Zorzi, 4 Temba Bavuma (captain), 5 David Bedingham/Keegan Pietersen, 6 Kyle Vereen (wk), 7 Marco Janssen, 8 Keshav Maharaj, 9 Gerald Coetzee, 10 Peace Wednesday, 11 Good Love

India (Possible): 1 Rohit Sharma (captain), 2 Yashavi Jaiswal, 3 Shubman Gill, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 KL Rahul (wk), 6 Shreyas Iyer, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Shardul Thakur/R Ashwin, 9 Jasprit Bumrah, 10 Prasidh Krishna, 11 Muhammad Siraj

Pitch and Conditions: This is South Africa’s fortress

SuperSport Park is one of the fastest stadiums in South Africa, and rain and overcast conditions can make it even more enjoyable. Although Centurion were South Africa’s bastion, with 22 wins in 28 Tests, India beat them by 113 runs here in their last tour.

Stats and Trivia: Kohli stands tall

  • Ashwin is 11 wickets away from becoming the ninth player to take 500 wickets.
  • Virat Kohli (51.35) is the only Indian batsman (minimum five runs) to average over 50 in Tests in South Africa. Sachin Tendulkar is second on the list with a score of 46.44.
  • Bavuma needs three more runs to complete 3000 in Test cricket.
  • Shubman Gill is 34 short of 1000 Test runs.
  • quotes

    “Playing against India comes with a lot of eyes and a lot more scrutiny in terms of everything we do. So we embrace that. The other thing, which is more obvious, is the skill factor on the field. For me as a batsman.” , their bowlers will put you under pressure and their batting attack will too; They have famous Test players and people who have performed in all conditions. They are a determined team too, who want to be able to say they have won a Test series here in South Africa [India having] That extra bit of drive and motivation, we’re really going to need to be at our best.
    Tempa agreed About the challenges of playing in India

    Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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