Date: December 26-30, 2021
Time: 1:35 PM IST (each match day)
Venue: SuperSport Park Cricket Stadium, Centurion
South Africa are all set to play India on their shores first in the Test matches starting on December 26 followed by the ODIs. The first of the three-match Test series begins at the SuperSport Park Cricket Stadium, Centurion on Sunday.
This will be the first Test for South Africa in the 2021-23 World Test Championship cycle after they missed out on making the finals in the previous cycle. The Dean Elgar side will be very aware of their superior record against India at home in Test match conditions and would want to carry forward the same advantage moving forward, denying Virat Kohli & Co. a chance at creating history.
For India, a chance to conquer the final territory beckons but it won’t be easy especially with the form of some of their experienced batters on the decline and their backups not yet exposed to challenging conditions in the rainbow country.
Head to head
The pitch at Centurion is expected to be helpful to the pace bowlers initially and while the run-scoring is likely to be difficult, it may not be impossible in these conditions. The home team may be at an advantage since India haven’t got any practice matches but even the Indian bowlers are capable of making the best use of conditions, making it quite an event contest to look out for.
Even before the start of the Test series, the Proteas have been handed a major blow as pacer Anrich Nortje has been ruled out of the series. This means Kagiso Rabada will be the key threat to India along with Lungi Ngidi. As far as their batting is concerned, there are reports suggesting that Quinton de Kock might be unavailable for at least one Test match later in the series to attend the birth of his child but he will be part of the plans in the opening match and would want to make it count along with Temba Bavuma and Elgar who form the leadership group as the vice-captain and captain respectively.
Despite India gradually building its reputation as one of the best Test teams in the world especially while travelling, they have only won three of their 20 Tests in South Africa. However, perhaps this is the best they have come in terms of preparation which also perhaps coincides with a weaker Porteas unit compared to the legends they had to deal with on their previous tours. Kohli-led India would be aiming for nothing but their best brand of cricket on the tour and if they do that, they could easily win their first-ever series in South Africa.
South Africa: Dean Elgar (c), Aiden Markram, Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, Keegan Petersen, Quinton de Kock (wk), Wiaan Mulder/ Marco Jansen, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Duanne Olivier, Keshav Maharaj
India: Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammad Shami, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah
India looks like the stronger team at the outset and if something dramatic does not happen from the South African camp, looks like an Indian win is on the cards.
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