After a long break India and South Africa will be in cricket mode as the 3rd test of the Freedom series begins tomorrow at Nagpur. The match will prove to be crucial for both the teams. While India would like to make a statement with its brand of young players out to prove their worth, South Africa, on the other hand, would like to maintain its long-standing record of not losing a test series overseas since 2006.
India is currently in the driver’s seat and enjoys a favourable lead over South Africa after the emphatic 108 runs victory in the 1st test at Mohali and thus would enter the VCA with the intention to win and take the series home. AB de Villiers’s 100th test washout has made this match a must-win situation for the Proteas if they want to stay alive in this contest.
And what adds to South Africa’s woes is the unavailability of their frontline paceman Dale Steyn. Steyn is currently grappling with a groin injury but was seen bowling in the nets during the practice session making his availability a matter of speculation which will only be resolved tomorrow morning before the toss. The injury to key players like Philander, Morkel and Steyn is just one part of the problem for the Proteas. The form of the key batsman is another major concern which has to be solved if South Africa wants a turnaround.
Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis have to find their footing and provide aid to De Villiers in facing the spinning trio of India who have been like the plague for the South African batting attack. With the VCA pitch likely to be a turner India enjoys an upper hand over South Africa with its spinners eating away most of the South African scalps in the 1 and a half match played so far. India right now stands on a formidable ground with its front men performing for the team. Vijay and Pujara have been India’s top scorers and have potentially covered up the lack of performance on the part of the other batsmen of the team. In a low scoring match, the fallouts of the Indian batting were hidden by the spin attack of Ashwin, Jadeja and Mishra.But as Murli Vijay said, “The confidence is really high as for now because we had a good game (in Mohali) and the first day (in Bengaluru) was in our favour. I don’t think batting is a worry for us because everybody is one match away from a big knock and this match may be the one” and Dhawan coming to the foray with his 40 makes things look brighter for India in all departments.
The Predicted XI for the match:
India: Virat Kohli (captain), Murli Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha(wicketkeeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Varun Aaron, Ishant Sharma
South Africa: Hashim Amla (captain), Dean Elgar, Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Stiaan Van Zyl, Dane Vilas (wicketkeeper), Simon Harmer, Imran Tahir, Kyle Abbot, Kagiso Rabada