India vs South Africa: 3rd test preview – Virat Kohli returns, series win on the cards

Pavan Suresh

India and South Africa will face off in the decider Test match to be played at Newlands, Cape Town from tomorrow onwards. It promises to be a thrilling encounter as South Africa registered a dominating 7 wickets win in the 2nd match played at Wanders, Johannesburg thanks to Dean Elgar’s heroics 96 not out.

The Indian batting failed badly in the first innings of the 2nd Test at Johannesburg. Apart from KL Rahul’s half-century and R Ashwin’s 46, none of them contributed that resulting in India scoring just 202 runs.

Shardul Thakur was the pick of the bowlers for India grabbing his career-best figures of 7 for 61 helping India to restrict South Africa for a paltry lead of 27 runs. Mohammed Siraj suffered an injury and could not perform well.

The experienced pair of Ajiyanka Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara scored half-centuries to lay a strong foundation before the middle order could not capitalize. Shardul Thakur scored a quickfire knock but Vihari who came as a replacement for Kohli remained not out on 40 helped India set South Africa’s target of 240 runs.

The Indian bowlers were not able to perform as a unit as Shardul Thakur, R Ashwin took 1 wicket each on the 3rd day. After a long rain delay break, Mohammed Shami made an important breakthrough getting rid of Rassie Van der Dussen. Mohammad Siraj got injured that impacted Indian bowling resulting in India losing the 2nd match by 7 wickets.

On the other hand, South Africa performed brilliantly in the 2nd Test match with both bat and ball. The pace bowling department of Rabada, Oliver, and Jansen skittled out India for 202 in the first innings.

Keegan Petersen and Dean Elgar laid a strong foundation after Aiden Markram was dismissed early on the first day. Petersen 62, Bavuma 51, contributions from Marco Jansen, Kyle Veeryne, and Keshav Maharaj, South Africa got a slender lead of 27 runs.

Kagiso Rabada produced a magical spell on the 3rd day taking 3 important wickets to bring back South Africa into the game. Rabada, Ngidi, and Jansen did a brilliant job for South Africa as they bowled out India for 266.

The South Africa batting line-up started off brilliantly as Markram and Elgar put on 47 runs for the opening wicket. Petersen showed intent while Elgar kept looking solid with his defense. Elgar continued to defy Indian bowling and helped South Africa chase down 240 runs easily. For his 96* in the 2nd innings, Elgar was awarded man of the match.

Virat Kohli who missed the 2nd Test match due to an upper back spasm will come back to lead the side. With Mohammad Siraj injured, Ishant Sharma or Umesh Yadav could take his place. The Indian batting needs to click post a big total putting pressure on the inexperienced batting line-up. Jasprit Bumrah who made his debut 4 years ago at the same ground, will be itching to perform and lead India to their first series win on South African soil.

Like the Centurion, India has not won a Test match at Newlands, Cape Town. They have played 5 matches drawing 2 and losing 3 matches since 1993.

South Africa will be high on confidence after defeating India in the 2nd Test match. The hosts will be depended on Dean Elgar to continue his performance. South Africa has played so far 58 Test matches in Cape Town winning 26, 21 losses, and 11 draws.

In the 2018 Test match at Cape Town, India failed to chase down a modest total and lost the match by 72 runs.

Players to watch out for India: Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, KL Rahul

Players to watch out for South Africa: Dean Elgar, Kagiso Rabada, Markram


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