Cape Town Test: Distraught India eye a turnaround, buoyant SA a series win

Cape Town, (UNI) India will be in action for the first time in the new year of 2024 as South Africa are waiting to unleash terror upon their rivals in the whites. Both sides will clash yet again here for the next five days on the Newlands pitch beginning Wednesday after the tourists were left reeling in agony in the last match.

The distraught Indian side were steamrolled by South Africa at the Centurion as the hosts flexed their fast-bowling muscles against their rival batsmen on a lively and bouncing track. But then, when the players walk into the middle, the history books take the backseat, sanctioning a renaissance.

For India, everything went wrong in the series opener after their batting did not click in both the innings followed by a poor bowling display that made them eat humble pie. South Africa scaled heights on some immaculate fast-bowling, studded by a couple of shimmering spectacles from Kagiso Rabada and Nandre Burger.

However, it will not be something of a proving trait for Virat Kohli and KL Rahul. They have been superb with their bats. In the first innings, Rahul cracked a century and Virat made a determined 76 runs in the second innings while he was regularly losing partners at the other end.

Both sides will have their objectives set as they step into the yard on Wednesday. India will be buoyant to share the spoils of the series which looks like a mounting assignment, while South Africa will catch the sight of winning the two-match Test series against the tormented visitors.

And Dean Elgar, who will be captaining the side for the last time, will not want his counterpart to be joining the elite club of Mahendra Singh Dhoni whose side had leveled the series in South Africa.

Aiden Markram, Tony de Zorzi, and Keegan Petersen will equally be stubborn in their approach to make a big cut after failing to make an indelible mark in the first Test. David Bedingham has been a revelation who fell short of a well-deserved debut Test century.

The surface at Newlands Stadium, until now, has flatly helped fast bowlers. A similar dicey wicket is expected that can prove to be a nightmare for the batsmen in the last three days. Lungi Ngidi, who is on the cusp of making a return after missing the first Test, would like to make life hell for Indian batsmen.

For India, Jasprit Bumrah would pray that he gets himself included in the five-fers list, and he was one of the potential candidates in the first Test as he beat the bat on several occasions without much success.

Prasidh Krishna is a far cry in the Test arena as he looked too ungainly in taking full advantage of the pacy and bouncy pitch at the Super Sport Park, and Shardul Thakur may scrape through into the side to strengthen the batting lineup, though he looked listless in the last game.

India’s most reliable allrounder Ravindra Jadeja will make a comeback to add much-needed spice in the middle-order and check runs with the soft and seamless Kookaburra after initial overs. Hence, it is difficult to fathom the retention of Ravichandran Ashwin on a bouncy Newlands wicket.

Both pacers Mukesh Kumar and Avesh Khan may be in the scheme of things of skipper Rohit, considering their first-class performances and resting Shardul and Prasidh.

The average score on the surface batting in the first innings is a meagre 250 which tells volumes about how the fast bowlers can be downright destructive.


India: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah (vc), Prasidh Krishna, KS Bharat (wk), Abhimanyu Easwaran.

South Africa: Temba Bavuma (c), David Bedingham, Nandre Burger, Gerald Coetzee, Tony de Zorzi, Dean Elgar, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Keegan Petersen, Kagiso Rabada, Tristan Stubbs, Kyle Verreynne (wk).

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