On Sunday night, Quinton de Kock’s South Africa pulled off an upset against Virat Kohli’s India in the third and final T20 match of the series. The Proteas annihilated the home team by 9 wickets, drawing the series 1-1 and in the process giving Team India something to think about heading into the all-important Test leg of 3 matches.
India will play South Africa in three Test matches starting on October 2 at Visakhapatnam, followed by Pune and Ranchi. This bilateral Test series will be part of the World Test Championship, in which India is leading after whitewashing the West Indies in the Caribbean.
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Here are 5 Quick Facts for you before the much-awaited Test series between two solid cricket teams:
India are ranked no. 1 in the ICC Test team rankings, and South Africa is ranked 3. This is a top-of-the-table clash, but the South Africans are considerably weaker than their ranking suggests. Since they played their last Test match (in February against Sri Lanka at home, where they suffered a rare home series defeat), veterans Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn have retired from Test cricket. This has left a gaping hole in their experience, and the team is in transition with Faf du Plessis leading a young side. Lot of pressure will be placed on the underperforming Aiden Markram, and Quinton de Kock will have to lead the batting in the absence of pillars like Amla and AB de Villiers. Temba Bavuma finally gets a permanent Test place – and it will be interesting to see if South Africa fare better than they did the last time they came here.
South Africa has played a Test series in India 6 times since their re-entry into cricket in 1991-92. India was the first nation they toured back then. Since then, South Africa has won 1 Test series (1999), drawn 2 and lost 3 series in India. India and South Africa played two Test series in India when both teams were at their peak (2007, 2008), and they drew both 1-1. South Africa has been a consistently good team in Indian conditions, except for the last time in 2015 the Proteas were destroyed by the Indian pitches 3-0. India are the favourites this time in 2019.
South Africa have won 2 and lost 2 Test matches in 2019. India have won 2 and drawn 1. Between the two teams, they have played only 7 Test matches. India and Afghanistan are the only two unbeaten Test teams of 2019 so far.
India will for the first time ever open with Rohit Sharma in Test cricket after dropping the out-of-form KL Rahul. This will be the only notable change from the West Indies tour, other than R. Ashwin challenging for the lead spinner position in home conditions. The best 11 reads: Rohit, Mayank, Pujara, Kohli, Rahane, Vihari, Pant, Jadeja/Kuldeep, Ashwin, Shami/Ishant, Bumrah. At some point, Shubman Gill is expected to challenge either Rahane or Vihari (both of who scored centuries in West Indies) for a middle-order position.
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Virat Kohli is the Indian batsman with the highest Test runs in the current team (6749), while it’s R. Ashwin with the maximum wickets (342). For South Africa it’s captain Faf du Plessis (3608 runs) and Vernon Philander (214 wickets). Faf du Plessis as Test captain has won 17 out of 29 Test matches (lost 9, drawn 3), while Kohli as Test captain has won 28 out of 48 Tests as captain (lost 10, drawn 10).