South Africa vs India, 1st Test: Key player battles
South Africa and India will start the proceedings of their three-match Test series on Boxing Day. The first Test will be held in Centurion. India have played two Tests here at the SuperSport Park, losing on both occasion in 2010 and 2018 respectively. The surface here assists the quick bowlers and has substance on offer for batters too. We decode the key player battles.
- India have quality pacers in the ranks to trouble South Africa.
- Good performances in Australia and England will help them in terms of confidence.
- The idea for both teams' pacers will be to bowl in the right areas and extract purchase.
- For SA, Anrich Nortje's absence means Kagiso Rabada will need to shoulder the responsibility.
- For the batters, they will need to plan better.
KL Rahul will need to give India the desired start upfront. Rahul had a good outing in England after making a return to the scheme of things. He will hope to keep Rabada at bay. In 26 Tests at home, Rabada has claimed 141 wickets at 20.09. Rabada has plenty of variations and will test Rahul's technique and tempt him around the off-stump line.
Indian pacer Mohammed Shami can make a serious impact in the first Test. The senior Indian bowler will hope to purchase the maximum and bowl in wicket-taking lines. His outswingers will be key. His battle against Quinton de Kock promises aplenty. As per Cricmetric, De Kock has faced 49 deliveries bowled by Shami, scoring 41 runs. Shami has dismissed the southpaw twice.
Ishant Sharma will want to bowl the desired line and length and be consistent. With 300-plus scalps, Ishant has the desired experience on offer. He can be a threat for SA batter Aiden Markram. Markram has managed to score 16 runs from 34 balls by Ishant in Tests, being dismissed once. Markram, who can get to 2,000 Test runs, will need to bat responsibly.
Virat Kohli hasn't enjoyed the best of form in Tests for quite some time now. However, in the 2018 Test here, he scored a valiant century. Kohli will need to bank on his performance away from home and stand tall. He would want to dictate the show against spinner Keshav Maharaj. Kohli has racked up 116 runs from 134 balls bowled by Maharaj.