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.
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?
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.
South Africa WWDLL (Last five tests, most recent first)
In the spotlight: Aiden Markram and KL Rahul
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
Stats and Trivia: Kohli stands tall
“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