India looks to wrap up historic series win at Wanderers

The Indians will not like to leave it to the third Test at Cape Town, which they would want as an occasion to celebrate Virat Kohli’s hundredth Test.

Virat Kohli's men will strive to conquer the Final Frontier - a maiden Test series triumph in South Africa - when the second of the three Freedom Tests gets underway on Monday.   -  AP

The Wanderers is shaped like a Bullring. The cricketers have to walk through a lengthy covered staircase to enter the ground.

And in the arena, the contests are fierce. The pacemen will come charging at you on a conducive pitch, and the ball will fly around.

In several respects, the Wanderers is the soul, the essence of South African cricket.

It is here that India, already 1-0 up, will strive to conquer the Final Frontier - a maiden Test series triumph in South Africa - when the second of the three Freedom Tests gets underway on Monday.

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The Indians will not like to leave it to the third Test at Cape Town, which they would want as an occasion to celebrate Virat Kohli’s hundredth Test.

Apart from the Proteas, India will have to battle the weather. Rain has been forecast on all five days of the Test, with thunderstorms on the last two.

Better judgement

The Indians start as favourites. However, they will have to bat better.

Apart from K.L. Rahul’s magnificent 123 at Centurion and his century opening partnership with Mayank Agarwal, the Indian innings lacked knocks of substance.

Kohli and Rahane got starts but could not convert. And the Indian batting disappointed in the second innings.

The visitor will be up against an incisive opening combination of Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi.

And beanpole left-arm quick Marco Jansen can ask questions with his angle, bounce and movement.

Could the South African still include lively paceman Duanne Olivier after Protea skipper Dean Elgar virtually declared left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj will play?

If Olivier comes in for all-rounder Wiaan Mulder, the tail would become too long in a line-up that is already struggling.

The Indians will seek runs from Cheteshwar Pujara. His tendency to push forward, irrespective of the delivery’s length, makes him vulnerable to a variety of dismissals.

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The length should dictate footwork, the golden rule of batting. The same applies to Ajinkya Rahane and Kohli, whose wafty cover drives are proving costly.

Tightness around the off-stump is the key to survival on South African pitches. Rahul showed this in the manner he left and forced the frustrated South African pacemen to shift line and bowl to his strength.

Innings building in Tests is much about patience. You play out deliveries, overs and sessions and things will gradually go your way.

Winning the toss, putting together a solid opening partnership after weathering a challenging first session, and posting a good first innings score is the mantra to success.

The surface at Wanderers could develop cracks as the match progresses and batting could become increasingly difficult; off-spinner R. Ashwin too could come into play.  

Opening salvo

The South Africans, save Elgar and Temba Bavuma, are short of confidence and runs. And the Proteas are up against a high-quality pace attack of Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohamed Siraj with Shardul Thakur as back-up.

The Proteas desperately need a substantial opening partnership and runs from Aiden Markram.

Quinton de Kock’s replacement, Kyle Verreynne, is believed to be a capable batter. The South African could also play an extra batter in place of all-rounder Mulder.

The focus shifts to the Bullring. India will be going for the kill.

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