Despite going down to South Africa in both the T20 and ODI series, India have cause to be hopeful about the upcoming Test series. Happy memories from the successful tour of Sri Lanka would surely be at the back of the players’ minds, and they would like to sustain their good form in the white jersey.
Cheteshwar Pujara back into the fold, Virat Kohli’s leadership to be crucial
Despite concerns about their opening batsmen, the Indian Test team can afford to be hopeful about the batting department. Cheteshwar Pujara’s solid comeback with a stunning century in the 3rd Test against Sri Lanka was vital to India’s victory in that series. Besides, Pujara is one of the few successful Indian batsmen who had managed to handle the Proteas bowlers with aplomb when India had toured South Africa in December 2013. Murali Vijay, with his recent run of good form, looks set to partner Lokesh Rahul at the top of the order. Shikhar Dhawan who is going through a prolonged stretch of inconsistency might have to warm the reserve benches this time.
Ajinkya Rahane, widely considered to be most successful as a Test batsman, shall be crucial to India’s chances. His ability to get along with the tail enders has bailed India out of trouble on many occasions in the recent past. Wriddhiman Saha has mostly been at his best in the limited number of opportunities that he has got so far. His ability to face the pace and bounce of Steyn and Morkel would, however, be tested in the next few weeks. Rohit Sharma, notwithstanding his reputation of being a dangerous batsman, has been under fire in the longer format of the game. South Africa will look to take every opportunity they get to exploit his technical weaknesses.
Ravindra Jadeja recalled, Ashwin and Ishant to be key to India’s campaign
Ravichandran Ashwin is reportedly close to full fitness. Ravindra Jadeja, after a spectacular show in the Ranji Trophy, has been recalled to the squad. Amit Mishra’s leg spin has worked well for India in the last one year. The spin department is thus close to self sufficiency. Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron occupy the pace bowling department. The spin-pace balance would thus depend on the kind of tracks which are made available in the Test series. With MS Dhoni’s explicit emphasis on turning wickets at home, India are most likely to go with a 3-2 spin-pace attack. The pick between Mishra and Jadeja, though, is going to be a tricky one in case Ashwin gets fit in time for the 1st Test.