India’s win against South Africa in Vizag was a clinical effort. The batting fired by putting up a big first-innings total and the bowling came good on the final day when wickets were needed. The biggest positive for the hosts was for sure the success of Rohit Sharma. Sharma created a record by scoring hundreds in both the innings and for now seemed to have solved India’s opening woes. The return of Ravichandran Ashwin to wicket-taking ways and Mohammad Shami’s continued success in the fourth innings was yet another positive for India.
For South Africa though the batting in the second innings was a disappointment. After putting up a brilliant fight in the first Innings the visitors will be disappointed with the lack of application shown by the batters when trying to save the game in Vizag. The biggest positive for South Africa though was the batting of Dean Elgar at the top. He looked in great touch and his 160 runs in the first innings was a brilliant display of batsmanship against some good bowling. Quinton de Kock batted brilliantly as well to score a hundred. The rest of the batting though except for the all-rounders and Faf du Plessis struggled to make an impact. The bowling attack struggled in both the innings and that would be something which will worry the South African camp ahead of the second Test.
India is expected to play the same XI in the second Test but South Africa might be tempted to bring on Lungi Ngidi in the place of one of the spinners. The rest of the team will remain the same and they will be hoping that they can draw inspiration from their effort in the first innings of the Vizag Test.
Rohit Sharma (India): Rohit Sharma’s twin centuries in Vizag opening the innings for the first time in Tests has provided India with a match-winning option at the top. He not only showed the ability to score big but also showed that he can up the ante if required. Rohit once again will be important for Indian batting in Pune considering his ability to play spin very well.
Ravichandran Ashwin (India): Ashwin who was dropped from the team for the West Indies Tests made a stellar comeback to the side with a brilliant 8 wicket haul in Vizag. Ashwin who has brilliant record in home Tests will once again be the thorn in the flesh of the South African batters. The pitch expected to aid spin means Ashwin will be difficult to handle which makes him the key member of the bowling attack for India.
Dean Elgar (South Africa): The South African batting has lots of inexperience in these conditions and Dean Elgar is one of the senior players who will be hoping to lead from the front again. He played brilliantly for his 160 in the first innings of the Vizag Test and he will be hoping to carry on that form into the second Test as well.
Keshav Maharaj (South Africa): South African bowling struggled in Vizag. They were unable to take wickets in both the innings and India was able to score rubs quickly which helped them to declare on time to force a result. Keshav Maharaj had a brilliant series in Sri Lanka when South Africa was there and he will be hoping to get that form into the current series. He was all over the place in Vizag and being the lead spinner he will be hoping for better performance on a pitch which will provide him lots of assistance.
What Did They Say?
“I think home games are going to be really important. We knew while coming here that India will always be a tough place to play, but you’ve got to make sure you get your points at home especially. The nice thing now is that now your test matches where your team is already 2-0 up or something like that, that third test match in the past you’ve probably given one or two young guys an opportunity… while now every test match you play is important over the two -year period. So every test match has a lot of value.” Said Faf du Plessis about Test Championship and the importance of home games.
“The importance of every game has become that much more. In situations, in a three-match series, you probably would have played out a draw, but teams are going to go for wins and get those extra points. So, I think it’s great for Test cricket. The matches are going to be that much more exciting. We have to be professional in every session that we play ” said Virat Kohli emphasizing the importance of points contributing to points in the Test Championship.
Aiden Markram, Dean Elgar, Theunis de Bruyn, Temba Bavuma, Faf du Plessis (C), Quinton de Kock (WK), Senuran Muthusamy, Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi, Kagiso Rabada
The wicket at Pune will assist spinners. India lost to Australia on a square turner couple of years ago and that will be in the minds of the team management this time as well. South Africa does not have the spinners in the calibre of Nathan Lyon and Steve O’ Keefe but again they would be hoping that Keshav Maharaj can turn on his magic. The series is on the line for the visitors and they for sure will fight hard but again it will be hard to bet against anything other than another Indian win.