India look to bounce back and clinch the series
A disappointing game in Johannesburg for Team India saw us face defeat against the Proteas. After a dominant win in Centurion, expectations were raised sky high. In the absence of skipper Virat Kohli, KL Rahul took over the captaincy. It all ended with Elgar leading his side to a comfortable victory and leaving the series delicately poised at 1-1. There are some key issues that need to be addressed if we are to win our first ever series in South Africa.
The Elgar Factor:
South Africa’s captain Dean Elgar played fighting knocks in both innings at the Wanderers notching up an aggregate of 124 runs in the process and taking his team over the finish line. He looked comfortable in difficult conditions taking body blows due to odd bounce without wincing. Getting him out early will be imperative for India.
After sitting out the Centurion game owing to back spasms, Virat Kohli’s return to the side will surely prove to be a huge boost to his teammates. However, the question is who will get dropped instead of him? Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane had been under fire for sub-par performances recently but scored free-flowing fifties in the previous game. On the other hand, Hanuma Vihari who came in for the injured Virat played extremely well too and was unlucky to be dismissed in the first innings due to a stunning catch. It will be intriguing to see who makes way.
The Pant Conundrum:
Since a stunning fifty in Ahmedabad against England, our wicketkeeper’s form has been on something of a lean patch averaging just 18.62 in the thirteen innings since. Moreover, he doesn’t seem comfortable in the bouncy conditions in South Africa having dropped a catch and conceded a few byes in the two Tests so far. Our Southpaw needs to find his touch in the final game and silence his critics with some consistency.
The Siraj Injury:
The ever-lively Mohammed Siraj picked up a hamstring injury in the first innings of the previous Test and is reportedly unavailable for the forthcoming one. He picked up three crucial wickets in our win in Centurion and he was missed even in Johannesburg. Our options to replace him are Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadaav. Alternatively, we can go for an extra spinner in Jayant Yadav as the conditions in Cape Town are expected to be conducive to spin.
This series is a wonderful demonstration for the beauty of Test Cricket with the games constantly swinging from one side to the other prompting one come back after another. Its finale begins tomorrow. If the first two games are anything to go by, we’re definitely in for a treat as spectators. Let’s hope it culminates in a historic win for Team India.