Agarwal, Rahul Take IND at 83/0 at lunch break
ideal departure for tourists who made 83/0 in the morning session. SA was guilty of making a mistake in the line and also of dropping Agarwal at 36.
India have had a great year in the longest format in the game. They have beaten the Australians at home and dominated England twice. They enter the competition after beating New Zealand 1-0 at home and pundits believe this is a great opportunity for Kohli & Co to script the story of the Rainbow Nation.
India has never won a Test Series in South Africa. Out of 7 series played here, the hosts have six while one has ended in a tie. Overall, the visitors have won just three of the 20 games played against the Proteas. And all around, with a formidable mix of players, visitors are looking to start from scratch.
On paper, India has the arsenal to compete with South Africa in terms of pace. Since the 2018 tour, actions of Jasprit Bumrah have increased in Test cricket, followed by Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma with Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur completing India’s world-class paced attack hex. .
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But the main concerns for the Indian team have been at bat, with captain Virat Kohli and senior pros Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane amid a rough patch.
In the recent home series against New Zealand, India were largely saved by debutant Shreyas Iyer in Kanpur and opener Mayank Agarwal in Mumbai.
With Rohit Sharma out of the series with a left thigh injury, batters need to do their best.
South Africa, meanwhile, will play a test match for the first time since making two appearances against the West Indies in June. Although the hosts’ batting power has been exhausted by the retirements of AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis, captain Dean Elgar is still there with Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen for company.
But they’ll have more batting worries in terms of experience with Kock batting goaltender Quinton only available for the first test before going on paternity leave.
In favor of the Proteas, Centurion was a stronghold, just as the Gabba were for Australia. In 26 Tests at the site, South Africa has won 21 times and suffered just two losses, against England in 2000 and Australia in 2014.
But with them and India having pockets of batting weakness, it can be said that the series could be decided by points and, to some extent, the ability to fire hitters quickly.
South Africa: Dean Elgar (captain), Temba Bavuma (vice-captain), Quinton de Kock (wicket), Kagiso Rabada, Sarel Erwee, Beuran Hendricks, George Linde, Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder, Keegan Petersen, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne, Marco Jansen, Glenton Stuurman, Prenelan Subrayen, Sisanda Magala, Ryan Rickelton and Duanne Olivier.
India: Virat Kohli (captain), KL Rahul (vice-captain), Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wicket keeper), Wriddhiman Saha (wicket keeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Jayant Yadav , Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Siraj.
(With contributions from the agency)
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