West Indies vs South Africa 1st Test Preview: Both teams search for consistency and control under new captains
While Kraigg Brathwaite has taken over the West Indies captaincy from Jason Holder, Dean Elgar has been appointed the skipper of South Africa's Test side.
No. 6 meets No. 7
Both West Indies and South Africa are not the force to reckon with that they once were in test cricket. West Indies are currently placed at the 6th spot in the ICC team rankings in test cricket while South Africa find themselves at number 7 - their lowest-ever ranking.
South Africa have won 2 of their last 5 test matches, with both victories coming against Sri Lanka at home. West Indies have also won 2 out of their last 5 test matches while losing one and drawing the other two.
The team put in a spirited performance in Bangladesh in the absence of almost all of their top players with them managing to win both the tests by close margins of 3 wickets and 17 runs, courtesy of some impressive performances from youngsters.
West Indies' in-form players
West Indies played their last test series against Sri Lanka at home which ended in a 0-0 scoreline. Newly appointed skipper Kraigg Brathwaite, who has taken over the captaincy from Jason Holder, was the top run scorer for West Indies in the series with 237 runs from 4 innings at an average of 59.25 and a strike rate of 35.16. Kyle Mayers followed Brathwaite with 201 runs and at an average of 50.25 while hitting 27 boundaries and batting at a strike rate of 62.81.
Kemar Roach, who recently had a super successful stint in County cricket, was the top wicket taker for the team in the series with 9 wickets from two matches at an average of 23.56. He will be a handful with the Dukes ball. Same is the case with Jason Holder, who is now relieved of the captaincy and can focus on individual performance. Holder took 7 wickets from two matches in the series against Sri Lanka at 18.57.
South Africa's in-form players
South Africa last played test cricket in Pakistan and competed well, considering that they carried an inexperienced side which had not played in the country for a long, long time. They lost the first match by 7 wickets while losing the next one by 95 runs.
Aiden Markram stood out in the series for South Africa and finished as the top run scorer with 227 runs from 4 innings at an average of 56.75. Temba Bavuma made 162 at 54.
With the ball, Keshav Maharaj worked his magic in spin friendly conditions with 10 wickets at 31. Anrich Nortje picked up 9 wickets from two matches, including a 5-wicket haul.
Hope back in the fold
Shai Hope has returned to the West Indies squad after being dropped, following a spell of poor performances. Hope impressed in the intra-squad practice match in the lead up to the test series and is expected to open the batting with Kraigg Brathwaite.
Upcoming talents Nkrumah Bonner and Kyle Mayers will slot in the middle order. Joshua da Silva will keep wickets.
Roston Chase, Jason Holder and Rahkeem Cornwall will provide the team with all-round prowess. In the absence of Shannon Gabriel, who has picked up an injury, Alzarri Joseph and Kemar Roach will be the team's leading pacers.
Rabada, Nortje and Ngid will be handy with the Dukes
Under new captain Dean Elgar, South Africa will be hopeful of a paradigm shift. Apart from Aiden Markram, Keegan Petersen, who will replace Faf du Plessis in the middle order, is expected to do big things. Rassie van der Dussen has also been in good form of late.
The team has no dearth of pace bowling riches with Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi in the XI. It will be a delight to see them go about their business with the Dukes ball. Keshav Maharaj will be the only spinner in the South African unit.
Here's a look at the probable playing XIs:
West Indies - Kraigg Brathwaite (c), Shai Hope, Nkrumah Bonner, Kyle Mayers, Roston Chase, Jermaine Blackwood, Jason Holder, Joshua da Silva (wk), Rahkeem Cornwall, Alzarri Joseph, Kemar Roach
South Africa - Dean Elgar (c), Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen, Keegan Petersen, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock (wk), Wiaan Mulder, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi
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