Can South Africa tame the Indian lion in its own den?

It should be an interesting series but India is usually unbeatable at home and South Africa will have to play well above its strength to trouble the Indians.

There’s no better sight in the game than when Rohit Sharma is in full flow.   -  Vivek Bendre

Having secured maximum points from the one-sided series against West Indies, India is on top of the table in the ICC Test Championship. It now plays South Africa at home in a three-Test series which it should also win quite comfortably.

Despite losing its warhead Jasprit Bumrah the team has enough variety in its bowling to trouble the Proteas batting which looks a bit light in the absence of Hashim Amla and A. B. de Villiers. There’s the skipper Faf du Plessis, of course, and Quinton de Kock who has always relished the Indian bowling attack but not much else. Young Aiden Markram and the talented Temba Bavuma haven’t quite fulfilled their promise and if they start doing that on this tour then South Africa will be breathing easy for the next few years, for sure.

South Africa’s bowling is much sharper with Kagiso Rabada who would want to show the world that he is the best young fast bowler in the world which is currently enamoured with the terrific debut in Test cricket of Jofra Archer.

It’s always good to have these mini individual battles which make the bigger war between the sides that much spicier.

Make no mistake, Virat Kohli having seen Steve Smith’s stupendous performance with the bat in the just concluded Ashes series between Australia and England in England, would want to score big hundreds in the Test series just to show he is no less than the Aussie champion.

Kagiso Rabada would want to show the world that he is the best young fast bowler in the world.   -  Reuters

 

What will be interesting is the composition of the Indian bowling attack. Will Ravichandran Ashwin make a comeback to the XI after having cooled his heels in the Caribbean or will India still go with three pacers and the lone spinner in Ravindra Jadeja?

Rohit Sharma has been given three Test matches to cement his place in the Indian team. No other Indian player in recent memory has got the indulgence that Rohit has got. How many players have got an assured three Test matches even before a ball has been bowled?

There’s not the slightest doubt about the abundant talent that he possesses. There’s no better sight in the game than when Rohit Sharma is in full flow. That has been seen time and again in white ball cricket. It’s against the red ball that he has not been able to make the same impact as in limited overs cricket.

With his phenomenal batting in the ICC World Cup where he hit five hundreds opening the batting, the selection committee felt that if he could do the same in the Test matches then one half of the opening pair problem would be solved. That’s the reason it was announced that he would open in all three Test matches. If Rohit does succeed then India will get off to a flying start after a long time since the one and only irrepressible Virender Sehwag retired.

Mayank Agarwal has not been given the same assurance like Rohit has been, but he too can flourish on Indian pitches if he bats in the ‘V’ at the start of his innings.

It should be an interesting series but India is usually unbeatable at home and South Africa will have to play well above its strength to trouble the Indians.

India didn’t help its cause by its decision to bat first in the final T20 game in Bengaluru which South Africa won in a canter and thus drew the series. And that would have given the visiting side a big boost as it tries to tame the Indian lion in its own den.