India vs South Africa: 1st Test match preview
India is all set to host South Africa in the first Test match at Visakhapatnam, tomorrow. The Men in Blue will play three-match Test series against the Proteas and the result of this series will reflect on the ICC Test Championship.
Indian team returned home after a successful Test series in the Caribbean, while South Africa played their last Test against Sri Lanka in February.
The Proteas would surely like to forget their 3-0 on their last tour to India in 2015 and will look to start this series on a positive note. The weather, however, can affect the game and the aspirations of the two sides. The rain has already spoiled South Africa’s net session and the warm-up match between South Africa and Board President’s XI at Vizianagaram. The weather forecast shows that the entire series-opener could be affected due to rain.
The groundsmen, however, are trying their best to keep the pitch dry and perfect for the play. It is anticipated that this pitch is going to support the spinners, which means that India will have an advantage here. As the Men in Blue have great spinning attack and the Proteas' batsmen will surely face issues.
The South African side is in transition after the retirement of Dale Steyn, Hashim Amla, and Jean-Paul Duminy. Now, Faf du Plessis has to guide his squad from this phase. The Proteas skipper will get support of his teammates in the middle-order.
The talented batsman, Zubayr Hamza, Quinton de Kock, and hard-hitting right hander, Theunis de Bruyn are going to be the key in this series. Aiden Markram will start the innings for Proteas. The batsman has scored a century in the warm-up game and will play a huge role in first match.
Keshav Maharaj will have a lot of pressure on his shoulders, but this is an opportunity for him to book his place in the Proteas' playing XI. Also, it will be interesting to see how the lethal pace attack comprising of Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander, and Lungi Ngidi go about their business.
All eyes will be on the white ball specialist, Rohit Sharma as how he will respond to the role of opening in Test cricket. The Caribbean tour was quite good for Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, and Virat Kohli. Cheteshwar Pujara coudln't make a mark in West Indies and will be eager to get some runs in home series.
Jasprit Bumrah sustained a minor lower back stress fracture and Umesh Yadav will be replacing him in this series. Will it effect the bowling unit? Well, you never know, however, the spinners will play a major role and will try to compensate.
For now, Ishant Sharma and Mohammad Shami will be the front line bowlers. The two pacers have performed consistently and will try to help their side in this series. Ravichandran Ashwin is quite effective at home pitches and will surely create trouble for the South Africans. Ravindra Jadeja will also attack from the other hand. The Indian all-rounder can bowl tight spells and as well provide depth to the batting.
India's predicted playing XI: Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, R Ashwin, R Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ishant Sharma, and Md Shami
South Africa's predicted playing XI: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Faf du Plessis (C), Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock (wk), Theunis de Bruyn, Keshav Maharaj, Dane Piedt, Lungi Ngidi, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada.
Cover picture credits: Moneycontrol