South Africa vs India 2nd Test Preview: Having tasted blood, India set to come hard at Wanderers
The Indian team under Virat Kohli has a once in a lifetime opportunity to register their first-ever Test series victory on South African soil against a depleted home side.
India flying high
India will go into the Test match full of confidence after having registered only their fourth Test victory on South African soil since readmission with a 113-run victory at Centurion recently.
India ended up winning four overseas Test matches in 2021 in Brisbane, Lord's, Oval and Centurion which is a big feat for an Asian side, given that teams hardly win away from home now.
It was only the third time that South Africa were beaten at Centurion and that has set the tone for the remaining series.
Call it lack of preparation or nerves, South Africa were way off the boil in the first session of the first Test match and that is where things began to slip out of their control. They did quite well and ended up inducing collapses in both the Indian innings, but the century from KL Rahul is what ended up being the difference between the two sides.
Does Thakur keep his spot?
The Indian bowling, for once, is looking sharper and more effective than the South African bowling in their own conditions and the team would expect the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj to keep doing well.
India have a choice to make for their fourth seamer with Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav sitting on the bench. Then again, Virat Kohli emphasised on the point that Shardul Thakur was in the role of an all-rounder and hence a change in that area is unlikely.
Six batters, four bowlers?
India can go for a left-field option and bring in an extra batter in place of Ravichandran Ashwin and then replace Ishant Sharma or Umesh Yadav with Shardul Thakur to add to their batting death.
Additionally, Hanuma Vihari can also bowl some decent spin if required on days 4 and 5 of the Test match. In all likelihood though, India will stick to the combination they went with in the first Test match.
Can both Jansen and Olivier squeeze in?
South Africa will have to make a couple of changes. One, in the absence of Quinton de Kock, who unexpectedly retired from Test cricket after the first Test match. Kyle Verreynne will come into the side in his place and will now look to cement his pot with de Kock having hung his boots.
Another quandary for them will be to fit in Duanne Olivier who missed out in the first Test match due to fitness issues. While they might think of replacing Marco Jansen with Olivier, a better option would be to play the fourth pacer in place of Keshav Maharaj, who anyway did not have any impact in the opening Test match.
No specialist spinner?
The catch will be that if the conditions are better for batting, South Africa will want to have a spinner to hold one end up. For that, they do have the likes of Aiden Markram and Dean Elgar who can do the job if required.
Having won the first Test match, India will come out all guns blazing at Johannesburg and attempt to bag the series which will be their first-ever Test series victory on South African soil.
Predicted playing XIs
India - KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, 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, Kyle Verreynne, Wiaan Mulder, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj/Duanne Olivier, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi
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