After losing the first Test in Cape Town, India will like to bounce back in the second Test which begins in Centurion from Saturday.
India have a lot of work to do in South Africa, ahead of the second Test. India's think-tank has to make selections based on specific conditions as they bid to keep the three-match series alive.
The second Test is a must win for India and they would be hoping that the batsmen could return to form in this game. South Africa, on the other hand, would like to win the series in Centurion itself. They already have a lead of 1-0 in the series and win in Centurion will give them an unassailable lead of 2-0 in the three-match series.
The pace trio of Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada will hope for another green top so they can test the Indian batsmen. Indian bowlers were also good in the first Test and bowled South Africa out twice in the game, only for the batsmen to fail.
Here are five talking points for Virat Kohli's team ahead of the crunch match.
1. The pitch
The pitch played wonders for the pacers in the first Test at Newlands stadium. It is expected that the pitch at Supersport Park, although aiding more pace and bounce, will also be good for batsmen. The ground staff concedes that the pitch is historically known more for bounce, less for lateral movement. But it will be 50-50, a bit of bounce and a bit of seam movement. Later in the match, the pitch can have inconsistent bounce with cracks expected to appear. Newlands was far more consistent when it came to jump off the pitch. It is said that like Newlands is famous for its ‘seam movement’, at Centurion, they do ‘bounce’ like no one.
2. The opening partnership
The opening partnership will also play a major role in the 2nd Test as far as Indian batting line up is concerned. India's openers produced stands of 16 and 30 in Cape Town. Shikhar Dhawan was out both times trying to pull short balls, when in a tangle. Murali Vijay steered catches towards gully. Neither managed a score of note against top-quality pace bowling.
Dhawan would have been a tempting pick because of the left-right opening combination. But in South African conditions, with more bounce and movement, a player of KL Rahul's solidity is the better pick.
3. Rahane and Rohit factor
Indian team management faced lot of criticism by not playing the vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane in the 1st Test. Virat Kohli's post-match comments of Rohit Sharma being preferred because of his better form raised plenty of questions.
Rahane has the temperament and technique to succeed in such conditions. His average outside India is 53.44, with centuries in Wellington, Melbourne, London, Jamaica and Colombo (twice). At home, it is 33.63 which, before he scored twin centuries against South Africa in Delhi in 2015, lay at a lowly 7.83. The struggle with Rahane has always been in India.
Meanwhile, Rohit, with an average of 25.11 outside of India, and four fifties in 27 innings, made 11 and 10 in defeat. It can be argued that it was one poor match for him in a Test in which barring Hardik Pandya nobody scored a half-century, but with a series to keep alive, India need to opt for the batsman with a proven overseas record in tough conditions.
4. The weather
The weather forecast looks pretty grim. If the weathermen are to be trusted, then it is likely to rain for four out of the five days of the second Test. That is not good news for South Africa, whon will surely want to win this Test and take an unassailable lead of 2-0 in the three-match series.
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Arti Diwan is a content writer in Sports Flashes for one year. She has a passion for writing and learning new things so as to be innovative in her work.