India and South Africa have had a very different road coming into this series, with India having played a total of 15 Tests since their last Boxing Day affair, while South Africa have played only 6 Tests. India’s last Test was also just a few weeks ago, while South Africa hasn’t played since June. However, as has been shown in the Ashes, with Australia’s sheer dominance over England, this may not always be a curse.
South Africa are coming into this series with a very different squad, and in all honesty, very little experience. There are only two players in the top 6 who have played more than 50 Tests, and they are new captain Dean Elgar (69) and former captain, Quinton de Kock (53). Remember also that de Kock is likely to miss at least one Test throughout this series with the birth of his first child, and South Africa’s experience level gets a sharp decrease.
South Africa and India are to set to lock horns in the first of the three-Test series, starting December 26 in Centurion. The Virat Kohli-led Team India is in pursuit of its first Test series win in the Rainbow Nation. This is their first tour to South Africa since the 2017/18 series. India has toured South Africa seven times for Tests. They first visited the nation in November 1992. The Mohammad Azharuddin-led side lost the four-match series 1-0 (three drawn). India hasnt tasted much success in South Africa ever since. They didnt win here until 2006. The Indian team recorded its third Test win on South African soil in 2018 (won in Johannesburg).
Jasprit Bumrah is amongst the best fast bowlers in red ball cricket. He has 101 wickets to his name in only 24 Test matches at an exceptional 22.79 runs per wicket. The Indian spearhead has claimed six five-fors and his best figures in a match read 6/27. Coming at 9.5 credits, Bumrah can be a great option for C/VC in your Dream XI.
Aiden Markram is arguably the best batting talent coming out of South Africa since AB de Villiers. The 27-yr old has 1824 runs in the longest format from 26 Tests, averaging 39.65 with five centuries and nine half-centuries. Markram has an even better record at home, averaging 46.74.
Duanne Olivier is an exceptional talent from South Africa, who has returned back after a Kolpak stint. The pacer has played 10 Test matches for SA, picking 48 wickets at an average of 19.25, including three five-wicket hauls. Olivier claimed 28 scalps from four matches in the recent Four-day franchise series at an average of 11.14
Mohammed Shami has been one of the top seam bowlers in the longer format of the game. He has 195 wickets from 54 Test matches at an average of 27.56, including five five-fors. Shami has a very good record against South Africa, picking 34 scalps from eight matches at an average of 20.91.
A free-flowing striker of the bat, Quinton de Kock has been an integral part of this South African team. The left-hander has scored 3245 runs in Test cricket from 53 games at an average of 39.09. He has scored six hundred and 22 fifties in the format. Although de Kock doesn’t have a good record in Tests against India.
South Africa and India enjoy an evenly matched rivalry in Test cricket. They’ve faced each other in 39 matches, with SA winning 15 and India claiming 14 games. In the last five meetings, India leads the scoreline by 4-1.
The Indian team is slightly depleted as the opening batter Rohit Sharma along with Shubman Gill are out of the Test series due to an injury. All-rounders Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel have also suffered injuries and won’t be a part of the series. Mayank Agarwal is likely to open alongside KL Rahul while Shreyas Iyer and Ajinkya Rahane will be fighting for a middle order spot. The third seam bowling spot could be a toss up between Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Siraj.
possible11 – KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Shreyas Iyer/Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj/Ishant Sharma
The home side has a few selection dilemmas going into the first Test. They could be tempted to leave Keshav Maharaj out for Marco Jensen considering the seam-friendly nature of the Centurion track. Anrich Nortje will miss the series due to an injury while Duanne Olivier is set to make a comeback after two years. One bowling spot remains uncertain with Lungi Ngidi and Glenton Stuurman in contention.
possible11 – Dean Elgar (c), Aiden Markram, Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne, Quinton de Kock (wk), Wiaan Mulder, Marco Jensen/Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Duanne Olivier, Lungi Ngidi/Glenton Stuurman
For those in India, the South Africa vs India series will be broadcast live on Star Sports Network. Catch all the live action of the first Test on Star Sports 1, 1 HD, Star Sports Hindi, and Hindi HD from 1:30 PM IST on matchdays. You can also watch the match live on the online streaming platform Disney+ Hotstar.