BY AAKASH KUMAR
New Delhi, Sep 30 (IANS) After a commanding performance in their inaugural Test series of the World Test Championships against the West Indies, Team India will now look to further strengthen their position at the top of the points table when they take on South Africa to begin the home leg of the championship with a three-match series.
Virat Kohli’s men were absolutely brilliant in the Caribbean Islands where they outclassed the Jason Holder-led side and comfortably whitewashed them in the two-Test series.
However, the upcoming series against the South Africa will not be an easy one, despite it being played at home. The quality of the South African side, despite their inexperience, was visible in the T20I series which ended in a draw. And with the likes of Faf du Plessis coming to the line-up, the hosts can be rest assured to face a stiff competition from the Proteas.
First, the experience of du Plessis’ leadership will come in handy for the visitors who would definitely by buoyed by the performance in the T20I series. With Quinton de Kock, Aiden Markram and Temba Bavuma all showing signs of form, it will not be an easy task for the Indian bowlers to take 20 wickets and win a Test match.
Kohli will not have the services of his go-to man Jasprit Bumrah in the Proteas Test, who has suffered from an injury and is not likely to even feature in the two Test series which will be played against Bangladesh in November.
Bumrah has been in sensational form ever since he made his debut in South Africa in 2018. He has picked 62 wickets in a short career of 12 matches and has taken the world by storm.
His presence in the bowling line-up would have proved to be critical against the South Africans. However, Team India will still have the services of Ishant Sharma and Mohammad Shami, along with Umesh Yadav, who have been in great form in the last two years.
However, the biggest talking point of the series will be Rohit Sharma, who has been given an opportunity to cement his place in the Test side. Rohit, who opens for India in the limited-overs cricket, will be batting alongside Mayank Agarwal at the top of the order.
Many in the cricket fraternity believe that this can be a make or break opportunity for the 32-year-old when it comes to Test cricket.
Rohit, who didn’t seem to be in form in the T20I series, didn’t have an ideal start to his stint as Test opener as he was dismissed for a duck in the tour game.
Another talking point in the series would be Rishabh Pant. Pant, as regarded by many as one of the most promising and destructive batsmen in world cricket, has off late faced severe criticism over his shot selection and not putting value to his wicket, especially in the limited overs format.
The 21-year-old has not been able to score runs ever since the culmination of the 50-overs World Cup in England. In the two Tests against the West Indies, he had scores of 24, 7 and 27 in the three innings he played.
There has been a question mark on his wicketkeeping skills as well and thus he would probably be going with a lot of heat over him against the Proteas.
With Wriddhiman Saha in the squad, it will be interesting to see whether the team management put their faith behind Pant or whether they give the experienced Saha another opportunity to make his way back into the Indian Test setup.
For South Africa, the Test series will see them open their campaign in the Test Championship and that’s why, they would be looking to start it on a winning note.
Markram has already stated that certain players would be carrying the baggage of their 0-3 defeat in the Test series on their last tour to India. However, their performance and the fight back which they showed in the T20Is will surely boost their morale and they would be aiming for a much improved performance than 2015.
BY AAKASH KUMAR