Deadline: October 2, 2019 at 9 AM IST
Venue: Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium, Visakhapatnam
The pitch at Visakhapatnam is a batting paradise – but only until the first two days. It then starts deteriorating and let the spinner cast a spell on the batsmen. For that matter, India’s Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will be smacking their lips.
Probable XI for India: Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammad Shami, Ishant Sharma
Probable XI for South Africa: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Faf du Plessis (c), Temba Bavuma, Zubayr Hamza, Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock (wk), Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Dane Piedt/Lungi Ngidi
NOTE: Pick your fantasy cricket team wisely
Players to watch out for
Cheteshwar Pujara averages a whopping 61.8 at home. In fact, Virat Kohli isn’t the batsmen to watch out for when India play in their own backyard. Pujara hogs the limelight, showing no signs of weakness or boredom. He bats and bats, until the opposition give in to his mastery. 10 of his 18 hundreds – including two double-hundreds – have come in India.
As is the case with Ravichandran Ashwin. India won’t even dare to spare a thought of benching him this time, as they did in the Caribbean. He has taken 234 wickets at 22.68, including 20 five-wicket hauls. To add more sparkle to his glory, he has scored runs at 29.8 at home including 2 hundreds.
Of the current lot, Dean Elgar is both the highest run-scorer (137) and wicket-taker (5) in India. Vernon Philander could play only 1 of 4 Tests during the 2015 tour due to injury, while Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi had not been introduced to international cricket. For the past few years, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel had been South Africa’s mainstay fast bowlers in the hot and humid conditions of the subcontinent. The onus thus, especially, will be on Philander to rock the home team with pace.
Faf du Plessis will be back in action. He had a forgettable World Cup, and had been off the field since. He must be itching to do what he does best – score runs by hundreds and take South Africa to victory.
Ravindra Jadeja took 23 wickets at 10.82 the last time South Africa toured India. In the same series, Ajinkya Rahane was the highest run-scorer: the highlight of the series was his twin hundreds in Delhi.
The scoreline would have read 4-0, in 2015, had rain not played spoilsport at Bengaluru. India left no stone unturned, completely dominating the Proteas. When they toured South Africa, they returned with a scoreline of 1-2 – the closest they got to registering their maiden win there. To put things into perspective, India have the advantage: they have far more balanced and experienced players at their disposal.
India: Virat Kohli (c), Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja,
Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammad Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (c), Temba Bavuma, Dean Elgar, Zubayr Hamza, Aiden Markram, Theunis de Bruyn, Vernon Philander, Quinton de Kock (wk), Heinrich Klaasen (wk), Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi, Senuran Muthusamy, Anrich Nortje, Dane Piedt