India look to clinch historic series win in South Africa
A pumped up India will be looking to start the new year with a historic achievement - wrapping up their first Test series win in South Africa in the second Test, which gets underway on January 3, 2022.
In the first Test at Centurion, a venue where South Africa had only ever lost two Tests and had been unbeaten there since 2014, India inflicted a 113-run defeat on the hosts to go up 1-0.
With the bowlers in top shape and the openers in form, India begin as favourites despite the middle order looking patchy. Here are a few things to watch out for in what could be a momentous Test.
From one fortress to another
The first Test was held at Centurion - where South Africa were unbeaten in Tests for seven years.
The caravan moves to Wanderers in Johannesburg for the second Test, which India could claim as their fortress in South Africa, having never lost a Test match in all their visits.
In five Tests thus far, spanning back to their first tour in 1992, India have won two and drawn three matches.
India had won by 63 runs in their last visit to the Wanderers, during the 2018 tour - their only win of the Test series.
Proteas receive Duanne Olivier boost
South Africa could receive a further boost to their stocked pace attack as Duanne Olivier looks set to make his long-awaited return to the Test team.
The leading wicket-taker in South Africa’s domestic circuit with 28 wickets in 4 matches at an average of 11.14, Olivier had missed the first Test after he was forced to quarantine due to a positive COVID-19 test.
He also reportedly had a hamstring strain and if fit, looks set to slot into the team for the second Test.
The Proteas could get him in place of Marco Jansen - who had an impressive Test debut in the first match - or Wiaan Mulder.
With Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi already in their ranks, this could be a very lethal South African pace attack.
The de Kock conundrum
While he was in any case set to miss the last two Tests of the series due to the birth of his first child, South Africa’s next wicket-keeper has big shoes to fill after Quinton de Kock announced his sudden retirement from Test cricket.
The former captain took the decision as he wanted to devote more time to his family.
The Proteas have both Kyle Verreyne and Ryan Rickleton in the squad as wicket-keepers and whichever one of them plays at Wanderers will surely have a huge task on their hands to replace one of the team’s best wicket-keeper batsmen.