Johannesburg: India’s formidably consistent match winners have a date with history in the new year as they face an extraordinary South Africa in the second Test from Monday here in pursuit of a coveted first-ever series win in the ‘Rainbow Nation’.
If the ‘Boxing Day Test’ was used to breach Proteas’ fortress at the Centurion, the New Year’s game will be all about vigorously defending the ‘Bull Ring’ bastion, which is a ‘home’ away from home was for the Indian team.
It was also right here in 2018 when the foundations were laid for one of India’s biggest test teams with a solid win at a track bordering on under-prepared and perhaps giving this unit the confidence to take on the world.
They’ve been doing that for almost four years now and aren’t in the mood to quit.
for captain Virat Kohlic, a Test win at the Wanderers would reaffirm his status as one of the greatest Indian captains of all time in the traditional format with series wins in three of the four SENA countries excluding New Zealand.
There has been no more opportune time to deliver the feat against a South African side that lacks the guts of Graeme Smith, the class of Hashim Amla, the manic consistency of Jacques Kalllis, the x-factor of Dale Steyn and the ruthlessness of Morne Morkel has.
To be fair, this South African team will find it incredibly difficult to compete against the current Indian lineup, let alone dream of a win.
Yes, they have a Kagiso Rabada, who carries the load, and Lungi Ngidi, who looks good, but Quinton de Kock’s sudden retirement from the heaviest form of cricket at 29 is a reminder of a difficult transition period that never seems to end. end up ahead of the Proteas.
So even if Ryan Rickleton, the 25-year-old dashing goalkeeper-batter about to make his debut, made some noise, he’ll find that scoring nationally is very different from facing Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami with the red kookaburra. .
Even Duanne Oliver, likely to replace Wiaan Mulder who dropped out in the first Test due to a hamstring injury, will find it extremely difficult against a seasoned Indian batting formation eager to give a better record of himself compared to the first Test.
On a personal note to Kohli, it would be the ideal breathing space he needs now that it’s official that he’s no longer the blue-eyed establishment boy after his much publicized battle of “your truth vs. mine” with no less than BCCI Chairman Sourav Ganguly.
Kohli’s herd is still insulated from the heat, despite the missing ‘three-digit mark’ from the past two years, but ‘King Kohli metaphorically wears ‘a crown of thorns’.
He didn’t come into contact with the media before and after the first test and now head coach Rahul Dravid is literally living up to his ‘The Wall’ moniker as he is set to appear as a firefighter for the second test.
Having already made it clear that he will never discuss secret internal affairs, Dravid has already made one round to put out the fire and on Sunday he is expected to limit the topic of discussion to cricket.
However, it’s very hard to imagine India making any changes to their winning combination, given Kohli’s obsession with five bowlers.
Even with that, India got a WTC (World Test Championship) point for slow overload and Ravichandran Ashwin will be just as important to the visitors’ bowling plans at a sailor-friendly wicket as their four fast bowlers.
Obviously Shardul Thakur is the weakest link in this attack with Umesh Yadav being more powerful but the Mumbaikar’s talent for picking wickets and also relatively stronger hitting ability keeps him in the mix.
But on a lively Wanderers circuit, Umesh won’t be a bad option, even if that could mean having to play an extra batter, which wasn’t exactly Kohli’s template.
As for the batting lineup, all five specialist willow workers along with Rishabh Pant, whose run-a-ball-34 was a special contributor in Centurion, will reappear in Centurion unless someone reports unfit on match day. the setup.
Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane will not be dropped just yet as Dravid will give them plenty of chances to succeed unless he shifts his reliance on Shreyas Iyer and Hanuma Vihari which may not be the case if batting coach Vikram Rathour’s latest media interaction is allowed be believed.
The three big guns earn a big score and it would be Proteas’ worst nightmare to come true if they all fired at the ‘Bull Ring’ at once.
It would then be a breeze for India.
india: Virat Kohli (Captain), KL Rahul (vc), Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha (wk) , Jayant Yadav, Priyank Panchal, Umesh Yadav, Hanuma Vihari, Ishant Sharma.
South Africa: Dean Elgar (Captain), Temba Bavuma (Vice Captain), Kagiso Rabada, Sarel Erwee, Beuran Hendricks, George Linde, Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder, Keegan Petersen, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne, Marco Jansen, Glenton Stuurman, Prenelan Subrayen, Sisanda Magala, Ryan Rickelton, Duanne Olivier.
Competition Starts at 1.30pm.
Also Read: Victory at Centurion Testimony of India’s All Round Ability: Kohli