Playing on the spinning Indian tracks is a daunting task for the touring team. Outside the sub-continent teams always have to face difficulty to cope with against the turning deliveries on the Indian pitches and South Africa is not an exception. They are habituated of playing on bouncy tracks in their backyards. Therefore dancing on the tune of spinners is common for the visiting squad.
First Test on Gandhi Jayanti
India and Proteas are lock horns for the first test of the three-test match series starting at Visakhapatnam from October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The visitors must have in their mind of the last tour of the country in 2015-16, being thrashed by 0-3, incidentally it was their first overseas series loss since 2006.
Team India upbeat
India, the number side in Test cricket is upbeat after beating the Caribbean in both the test matches with ease. India collected full 120 points in World Test Championship (WTC). The home team is sweating in the nets with an objective to win 11th successive Test series at home, the most by any side. The series is also played under the banner of WTC.
Setback for home team
Ahead of the series against Proteas, India has to pass through several hiccups. The injury of Bumrah and his withdrawal from the series is a major setback for the host. Therefore major responsibility of pace attack has been shifted on the shoulder of Ishant Sharma and Mohammad Shami to fulfil the absence of Bumrah. Indian tracks are paradise for the spinners so the host is likely to field at least two may be three spinners in the final eleven.
Spin trio dangerous to handle
Three spinners have been included in the team Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja. Their fingers must be itching at this moment to go and bowl and make the inexperienced proteas batsmen to dance. The Springbok should be ready to feel the heat against the trio of fearsome turning bowlers.
Indian batting is formidable to handle any attack specially in home conditions quite easily.
Rohit’s form a concern
The form of Rohit Sharma is the only concern in the batting department for the team management. This Test is a massive challenge for Rohit to prove himself a fine player of Test cricket too. He is arguably one of the finest batsmen in world cricket in ODI and T20I. But to score runs in the traditional form of cricket is not the cup of tea for everyone.
Test cricket is a real test
The king of white ball cricket has just scored 1585 runs with a meagre average of 39.62 in 27 test matches, while he has crossed 10,000 runs in limited overs cricket. Jason Roy, the English batsman is passing through the same difficulty. He thrashes any attack at will in white ball cricket, played key role in England’s world cup triumph. When opportunity was given to him to show the same skill in red ball cricket, failed to deliver. To score runs heavily in the longest format of the game really justifies the class of a batsman.
Pujara ready to make amends
Cheteshwar Pujara failed miserably in the Carribean tour. But this classic batsman has nothing to prove. It is an old saying of cricket that “Form is temporary but class is permanent”. The wall of team India will have to deliver against the dangerous fast bowling of the visiting team to make batting more potent.
Toss between Pant & Saha
The choice between out of form Rishabh Pant and Wriddhiman Saha as the wicketkeeper is another issue to be sorted out. Pant is young so he may get another chance at least in the first test. Saha is better choice than his counterpart behind the stump, which is vital in Test cricket. Dropping important catches at the crucial time will put the team down the barrel. If Pant gets chance then it would be a do-or-die situation for him.
The south African team is inexperienced and most of the batsmen haven’t tested the strong Indian attack. After the retirement of Hashim Amla, liability has gone specially on the shoulder of skipper Faf du Plessis, Aiden Markram and Temba Bavuma.
South Africa has to show guts and surgeon like concentration to handle the Indian attack. They can’t be ruled out, because they are capable to turn the complexion of the match at any time. Indian bowlers have to be careful and should not be overconfidence.
Pace a strong weapon
The pace bowling department of the visiting side is one of the strongest in the world cricket. Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander are leading from the front, other bowlers are also capable to rib through any batting line up. It won’t be a cake walk for India, as they had in the West Indies tour. To play against the quality fast bowling of the Proteas need skill, temperament and full concentration.
Weather could play a decisive role in the first test starting on Wednesday at Visakhapatnam. Weatherman has predicted rains on all five days. Lets pray for sun and a good weather for cricket.