South Africa vs India: Second Test Preview

Batsman faces bowler in front of packed cordon

We preview the second Test between South Africa and India set to take place at SuperSport Park Centurion between Saturday 13 January and Wednesday 17 January. 

A fine day four performance from Vernon Philander ensured that South Africa took a vital 1-0 lead in their three-match series against the touring Indians.

Things will only get more difficult for India now as they head to the paceman’s paradise that is the Highveld for the next two Tests, the first of which gets underway this Saturday at SuperSport Park Centurion.

South Africa vs India | 13 January – 17 January | SuperSport Park Centurion, Pretoria

To Win Match
South Africa 6/10 | Draw 33/10 | India 7/2

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South Africa 
The Proteas were most definitely made to sweat in their 72-run win against India down in Cape Town. Certainly winning the toss and electing to bat first hamstrung the hosts who struggled on day one when Bhuvneshwar Kumar found plenty of joy in the first hour.

Still, Ottis Gibson’s charges did just enough to get the job done with AB de Villiers’ first innings partnership with Faf du Plessis probably the decisive moment in the Test. It was great to see AB back in the whites and you feel that his and Faf’s presence solidify the South African middle order.

There are decisions to be made, however. With Keshav Maharaj could well be left out for the next two Tests where the seamers are expected dominate. His place in the side will likely be taken by Chris Morris or Andile Phelukwayo while Dale Steyn’s injury necessitates yet another change which will see one of Lungi Ngidi or Duanne Olivier return to the side.

I’d hope to see the Phelukwayo and Ngidi come in. Andile has been in and around the side across all formats and deserves his place in the side, and an opportunity to show what he can do against top opposition. Ngidi, I feel, should come in ahead of Olivier who just tends to release pressure with wayward bowling at times.

Gibson loves and out and out quick and Ngidi most certainly provides that. He grabbed nine wickets in the only Sunfoil Series match he’s played this season and should be able to extract plenty of pace and bounce to trouble the Indians on his home surface.

 YESWENA

India
The Indian management need to do something about their squad selection. There’s no way that Rohit Sharma should have been playing ahead of Ajinkya Rahane. Shikhar Dhawan, too, must drop away for KL Rahul who has been in excellent form of late.

Rahul has been in fine fettle of late across all formats and will be desperate to show his worth outside of the Sub-Continent against top class competition. Rahane on the other hand is a relative master compared to the other Indian batsmen in foreign conditions.

The 29-year old averages 69.66 in South Africa, 54.00 in New Zealand, and 57.00 in Australia – why he wasn’t included in the first Test remains mystery, although Kohli went on to say that Sharma was selected on current form. Irrespective, you can rest assured the Rahane will walk out as a starter come Saturday.

One would wonder whether or not Ravichandran Ashwin’s needs to be included in the side with Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma sitting on the side lines. You can’t see Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah or Mohammed Shami being dropped after excellent performances with the ball while Hardik Pandya will continue to occupy the all-rounder role after starring in Cape Town.

Cheteshwar Pujara's conservative approach was called into question - albeit indirectly - by Kohli this week. However, I think there is value to be found in digging in and allowing more aggressive batsmen to get the runs around you. Pujara is a master at surviving at the crease with his presence allowing the likes of Kohli and Rahane to play their natural games.

Verdict: South Africa 6/10
Everyone had said that Newlands was India’s best chance of winning a Test on this Tour and they weren’t wrong. The extra pace and bounce in Centurion should be far too much for a determined India to cope with – back the South Africans at a tasty 6/10. 

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Written by Jason Dewey for Hollywoodbets

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