Preview: India start as favourites at home against in-transition South Africa
India will re-start their hunt for the ICC World Test Championship crown with the Test series against South Africa. The first Test of the series will be played at Visakhapatnam from the 1st of October.
India are currently placed at the top of the ICC World Test Championship Table with 120 points after they thumped West Indies 2-0 in their den earlier this year. South Africa, meanwhile, are yet to play a match in the championship.
In the last 5 Tests between these two sides, India has beaten South Africa thrice and lost two games. The last time South Africa toured India, back in 2015, India won the series 3-0. That South African side, however, had the likes of AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, JP Duminiy and Morne Morkel. The current set up is a team in transition. They will find it extra hard to cope with this strong Indian side at home this time round.
Captain Virat Kohli will be leading from the front in India’s batting department. Cheteshwar Pujara, who had a forgettable tour of the West Indies, is expected to do well at home. Ajinkya Rahane has found form and can be an impact player in this match. It will be interesting to see of Rohit Sharma is used as opener in this Test and how he responds to the challenge. If he clicks, he can really dent South Africa.
India’s bowling has suffered a blow with leading fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah being forced out of the series because of injury. However, they have enough resources to win the game for the team. Lead spinner Ravichandran Ashwin is expected to be back in the eleven. Along with Ravindra Jadeja, the two spinners will have a major say in this game. Fast bowlers Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami too will be useful on this track.
South Africa, meanwhile, have an inexperienced side. Captain Faf du Plessis and wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock will have to do the bulk of the scoring for the team. The others like Temba Bavuma and opener Aiden Markram too can leave an impression on the game.
Their bowling will be led by fast bowler Kasigo Rabada who would be itching to put up a show after a forgettable World Cup. The experience of Vernon Philander might come handy on this pitch. It is Keshav Maharaj’s left-arm spin, though, that might have the most crucial role for South Africa in this match and the series ahead.
India vs South Africa Betting Tips, 1st Test:
There’s been only one Test played at the Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium, Visakhapatnam – between India and England in November 2016 which the home side won by 246 runs. Hence it is difficult to say how the pitch would behave when India and South Africa clash her for the first Test of the series.
The surface should be a typical India one – good for batting initially with some help for the fast bowlers but will start assisting spin from the late second day and third day onwards. The team batting first would aim to get more than 400 runs on the board. And batting last here will be really difficult.
Given India’s recent form, all-round strength and dominance at home they are clear favorites for this game. South Africa is in transition and will take time to adjust to the conditions here. Team India should hence emerge as the winners of this Test match.