Preview: South Africa v/s India

Wanderers, Johannesburg

1st Test

After the mini-disaster of the ODI series, where India made sure they enveloped 2013 with a disheartening series loss (they started 2013 losing to Pakistan 1-2 at Home), the most awaited test series of 2013 will now begin.


Yes, there will be only two tests, but even these two tests will seem like an eternity to the Indian players- who seem to have displayed familiar allergic reactions while playing overseas once again. First England, then Australia and now South Africa- arguably their worst foreign land out of all.

Probable Indian XI for Tests:
Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Pujara, Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Rahane, Dhoni, Jadeja/Ishant, Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, Shami

While the batting order looks set with Kohli set to take up Tendulkar’s no. 4 position, the inclusion of Rahane could be a bit of a surprise in order to strengthen an already-inexperienced line up. This means that Jadeja- India’s no. 1 hope at home- could find himself vying for an overseas place with, you heard it right, Ishant Sharma. Ishant could be an important pick simply because the Wanderers is known for its pace and bounce- and Ishant put in an impressive performance at the same ground in the 3rd ODI a week ago. Zaheer could be back to lead a brittle attack with the mercurial Shami the other seamer- two spinners may not be the formula that works here though. Ashwin will keep his place due to his batting ability.

Personally, I’d like to see an extra bowler play instead of Rahane- to include both Jadeja and Ishant- simply because Ashwin provides an extra batting option in case of a collapse. This could very well be Vijay’s most important series of his career, a make or break for the Tamil Nadu opener that will play his first series as a first choice opener abroad. Rohit will play VVS Laxman’s role.

 Probable South African XI for Tests:
Smith, Peterson, Amla, Kallis, De Villiers, Du Plessis, Duminy, Robin Peterson, Steyn, Philander, Morkel.
Captain Graeme Smith is set to resume his one-sided rivalry with old nemesis Zaheer Khan. Alviro Peterson could be the other opener, while Amla and Kallis resume at their usual calm positions in the middle. De Villiers, the best batsman in the world, will be wicketkeeper. Between Steyn, Philander and Morkel, the Proteas will form the most feared pace attack in world cricket. Robin Peterson will play lone spinner, while Duminy will bowl his part time along with Du Plessis- who needs a big one to cement his spot in the middle of the order.

Prediction:

The Indian XI is still yet to get a feel of the alien conditions, and could be blown away in the first test with a heavy defeat. But expect the likes of Kohli and Dhoni to put up a lone fight, and with Zaheer making a comeback into the team after ages, this team could struggle against a well-oiled South African machine fresh off a Abu Dhabi 1-1 series draw against Pakistan. 

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