South Africa vs India, 1st Test: Preview, stats, and more
South Africa and India are to set to lock horns in the first of the three-Test series, starting December 26 in Centurion. The Virat Kohli-led Team India is in pursuit of its first Test series win in the Rainbow Nation. This is their first tour to South Africa since the 2017/18 series. Meanwhile, the Proteas aim to continue their dominance over India at home.
- India have toured South Africa seven times for Tests.
- They first visited the nation in November 1992. The Mohammad Azharuddin-led side lost the four-match series 1-0 (three drawn).
- India haven't tasted much success in South Africa ever since. They didn't win here until 2006.
- The Indian team recorded its third Test win on South African soil in 2018 (won in Johannesburg).
The SuperSport Park (Centurion) will host the series opener. It will begin at 1:30 PM IST. The wicket here is deemed one of the quickest. Notably, the top five wicket-takers on this venue are seamers. The surface has plenty for the batters too. One can watch the match live on the Star Sports Network and stream the same on the Hotstar app (paid subscription).
The two teams have met 39 times in Test cricket, with South Africa leading the head-to-head series 15-14. A total of 10 matches have resulted in a draw. Notably, India have won the last four Tests between the two sides. However, they have a poor record in South Africa. The Indians have won only three out of 20 Tests in the nation so far.
Rahul Dravid was the first Indian captain to win a Test in South Africa (in December 2006). India defeated the Proteas by 123 runs in Johannesburg. In December 2010, India registered their second Test victory in the nation (by 87 runs), this time under MS Dhoni. Virat Kohli led India to their third Test win in South Africa in January 2018 (by 63 runs).
India will miss the services of Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja. It remains to be seen if Ajinkya Rahane is retained in the XI. Hanuma Vihari, who fared well for India A, could play the 1st Test. Playing XI: Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), R Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj.
In a major blow to SA, pacer Anrich Nortje has been ruled out of the series with a "persistent injury". His absence could pave the way for Duanne Olivier, who last played for SA in 2019. Probable XI: Dean Elgar (captain), Aiden Markram, Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, Quinton de Kock (wicket-keeper), Kyle Verreynne, Wiaan Mulder, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Olivier, Lungi Ngidi.
Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar is the only Indian batter to have scored over 1,000 Test runs in South Africa (1,161). Kohli can emulate Tendulkar's feat in the impending series. He owns 558 runs from five Tests at an incredible average of 55.80 in South Africa.