Finally after a gap of two months, West Indies will play some competitive international cricket. The Windies players pulled out of the India’s tour in October following a pay dispute with their board. But after sometime, the issue finally got resolved and a full-strength team to face South Africa was chosen.
On the other hand, South Africa will play a home Test series after a gap of almost nine months. This will be Hashim Amla’s first home Test series as a captain and he’ll straight-away look to make amends. This will also be South Africa last Test series before the World Cup and they’ll again look to start a perfect record at home, that was ended by Australia earlier this year.
Although West Indies have chosen a full-strength side for this tour, but they have already been weakened by the absence of Chris Gayle and Darren Bravo. Gayle is injured and Bravo has ruled himself out of the series due to personal reasons. This clearly has put a lot of pressure on Shivnarine Chanderpaul to perform because the likes of Devon Smith, Marlon Samuels are highly inconsistent. Kraigg Brathwaite has started to show-case his talent and it’ll be interesting to see whether he’ll able to replicate his form that he showed against New Zealand earlier this year.
To keep his bowlers fit for the World Cup, skipper Denesh Ramdin will most probably play five of them, with Jason Holder playing the all-rounder’s role. With Kemar Roach and Jerome Taylor fit, their pace-attack looks solid and on their day, then can prove to be a big headache for the South African batting.
Despite JP Duminy missing this series due to injury, South Africa still have a rock-solid batting order. Each and every player in their top six has the ability to stay at the crease for a long time. Stiaan van Zyl, the left-handed batsmen, will most probably take Duminy’s number seven spot and if he performs well, selection headaches will rise for Amla in future.
Their bowling attack is loaded with experience and aggression. Dale Steyn will have a great chance to get to 400 Test wickets. Currently, he has 383 wickets and if he plays all three Tests, he’ll surely get to that landmark. With Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander as other pacers, it’ll be interesting to see whether Amla plays Kyle Abbott or Robin Petersen. Both did well in the ODIs against Australia in November. So, whether Amla goes for attacking or containing option remains a fact to be seen.
Probable Playing XI for West Indies:
Kraigg Brathwaite, Devon Smith, Marlon Samuels, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Jermaine Blackwood, Denesh Ramdin, Jason Holder, Sulieman Benn, Kemar Roach, Sheldon Cottrell, Jerome Taylor
Probable Playing XI for South Africa:
Dean Elgar, Alviro Petersen, Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Quinton de Kock, Stiaan van Zyl, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Kyle Abbott
Time (IST) 14:00