South Africa vs India 3rd Test Preview: With Kohli back, India look to amp up intensity in Cape Town
Indian captain Virat Kohli has recovered from the upper body spasms which kept him out of the 2nd Test.
A record-tumbling Test
South Africa had only chased down two totals in excess of 250 in the fourth innings of a home Test match and so, when India set them a target of 240, the visitors were in the driver's seat.
Owing to a combination of some inconsistent bowling and helpful weather, South Africa chased down the total with ease, winning by 7 wickets and registering their third highest successful 4th innings chase at home.
It was also the third highest successful 4th innings chase versus India and and it came on the back of Dean Elgar's unbeaten 96, the second highest individual score by a South African captain versus India.
South Africa change the narrative
India were flying high coming into the Wanderers on the back of their comprehensive 113 run win at Centurion. South Africa's successful run chase, and a record one at that, has certainly altered the status quo.
However, from an objective point of view, India are still the favourites to clinch the series. In fact, for most of the second Test, India were in the driver's seat and only let the match slip away from their grasp in the last innings
The wicket was under the covers for a long period which helped bind the pitch together and the inconsistent bounce which was on display for the majority of the Test match almost vanished.
Umesh or Ishant?
Indian head coach Rahul Dravid pointed out two important things in his post match press conference and both might turn out to be crucial in the third test match.
The first one was that the taller South African bowlers were able to extract more out of the pitch than the Indian bowlers. With Mohammed Siraj unlikely to be a part of the playing XI in the 3rd Test match due to a hamstring injury, India have two options.
They can go for Ishant Sharma to provide versatility to their bowling line-up. That said, Umesh Yadav was the team's most successful bowler in the last Test match of their tour of England and deserves an opportunity as well.
Kohli regains fitness
The second thing that Rahul Dravid pointed out was that Virat Kohli was feeling a lot better and has recovered from his upper body spasms and is likely to come back to lead the side in Cape Town.
"From all accounts, he should be fine," Dravid said. "He's had the opportunity to run around a little bit, he's had the opportunity to test it a little bit, I'll be down only now at the moment in the nets with a few throwdowns and stuff, so hopefully with a few net sessions in Cape Town, he should be good to go. I haven't had a detailed discussion with the physio as yet, but from everything I'm hearing and from just having a chat with him, he's really improving and should be good to go in four days' time."
Proteas to stick to their combination
Despite Keshav Maharaj not playing any major role in the first two Test matches, the hosts are likely to stick to their bowling combination of Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Duanne Olivier, Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi, with Jansen batting as high as number 7.
Again, the team which wins the toss and how the first innings pans out will be crucial in the outcome of the match, and the series.
Predicted playing XIs
India - KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, R Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma/ Umesh Yadav
South Africa - Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Keegan Petersen, Rassie van der Dussen, Temba Bavuma, Kyle Verreynne, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Duanne Olivier, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi
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