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South Africa vs India, 1st Test Preview: Inexperienced Proteas batting gives India best chance to win in SA

India's captain Virat Kohli celebrates
India's captain Virat Kohli celebrates
©REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte Picture Supplied by Action Images

Having played their first Test match in South Africa back in 1992, India are yet to win a Test series in the country.

  LIVE SCORES - South Africa vs India, 1st Test:

Track record

The last time India toured South Africa was in 2017-18 as the fans were left wanting for more. The team was in a really good position in the first Test match at Newlands but let the momentum slip away, ultimately losing by 72 runs.

South Africa dominated the next Test match at SuperSport Park and won by 135 runs. However, India pulled things back on a spicy pitch at the Wanderers Stadium and won by 63 runs.

It would have been really interesting to see the result if the series had one or two more matches. The fans will now get to see the two teams take on each other in three high-octane Test matches.

Head to head

Out of the 39 Test matches played between the two teams, South Africa have won 15, India have 14 while 10 have been drawn.

That said, South Africa have dominated the proceedings at home, winning 10 of the 20 Test matches. India, on the other hand, have won just 3 and drawn 7 but are yet to win a series in South Africa -- the only Test playing nation where they have failed to do so.

India on a high

India are on a high in Test cricket after (almost) winning a hard fought series in England on the back of a historic series victory in Australia. South Africa is the only fortress that the team hasn't breached and will try their best to do so this time around.

It will help the Virat Kohli-led side that they still have their core of experienced players intact -- the same group which ran South Africa close in 2017-18 which was the beginning of India emerging as a real force to reckon with even in away Tests.

South Africa back in whites after 6 months

South Africa have undergone an overhaul with no member of the Test mace winning team of 2012 playing. The retirement of the likes of AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander and Faf du Plessis has left a gaping hole. Still, the team remains formidable at home.

South Africa last played a Test match six months ago when they beat West Indies emphatically by 2-0. Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje ran riot in that series and South Africa will be rueing the fact that Nortje will have to miss this series due to a hip injury.

However, they will take comfort in the fact that Duanne Olivier returns to the squad and most likely to the playing XI as well after his Kolpak contract dissolved due to Brexit.

Olivier, Rabada and Ngidi to form SA pace trio

South Africa have a solid opening combination with the gutsy Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram, who is playing the best cricket he has in the last couple of years. Keegan Petersen, Rassie van der Dussen and Temba Bavuma make up the middle order with wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock providing the necessary firepower at No. 6.

Pace-bowling all-rounder Wiaan Mulder and spinner Keshav Maharaj provide balance to the South African bowling unit which will have Duanne Olivier, Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi as the three pacers.

Ashwin, Shardul, Siraj set to play

India have KL Rahul, Mayank Agrawal, Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli as their top 4. Shreyas Iyer has an outside chance but the team is likely to pick the experienced Ajinkya Rahane ahead of Hanuma Vihari for the number 5 spot.

R Ashwin and Shardul Thakur will lengthen the Indian batting line up with their all-round ability. Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj will be the team's top 3 pace bowlers, with Ishant Sharma set to miss out.

Predicted playing XIs

- KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane/Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant, R Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj

South Africa - Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Keegan Petersen, Rassie van der Dussen, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Wiaan Mulder, Keshav Maharaj, Duanne Olivier, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi

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