Live: IND Vs SA 2nd Test | Day 2 | Live Scores and Commentary | 2019 Series
That India are a dominant force in Test cricket at home goes without saying, and another example of that was seen in Visakhapatnam where they handed South Africa a 203-run defeat to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
However it wasn’t the usual comfortable ride for Virat Kohli’s side, who now turn to Pune, which is a ground where they’ve enjoyed a lot of success, and will look to wrap up the series with a game in hand. And South Africa to India’s advantage, don’t seem to be the most daunting oppositions.
For India, the chance taken on Rohit Sharma at the top of the order paid off handsomely as he smashed back to back centuries alongside Mayank Agarwal who’s riding equally high on confidence after his double century.
In Pune, the dynamic Indian batting lineup that follows the openers with the likes Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Hanuma Vihari will definitely look to keep the Proteas out on the field for as long as they can.
However, they will be vary of the collapse they suffered in 2017 against Australia, where a rank turner back fired allowing Nathan Lyon to have the last laugh.
India boast off two seasoned spinners in R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, and one expects that Kohli will need them to do the bulk of the bowling over the course of the game.
If the spin twins weren’t terrifying enough for the South Africans, Mohammed Shami’s mastery with the semi new and old ball on dry tracks is slowly attaining legendary status and will have left it scars on the visitors.
What makes Shami stand apart is his ability to do it regularly when situations look hopeless.
“He is someone who can change the complexion of the match totally when you don’t see it coming. His skill is obviously there for everyone to see. Especially, in the second innings, when the situations are difficult he comes in and does the job everytime. It’s great,” said Kohli.
Players accepting responsibilities at different stages of the game is something that has “amazed” the captain.
While there has been sporadic rain with forecast of further downpour during the course of the match, the skipper didn’t seem very interested in changing his team combination.
Ishant Sharma was steady through the duration of the first Test, which means Faf du Plessis and co will really need to up the grit quotient they showed in the first innings in Vizag if they’re to get a positive result in Pune.
Such was their impact that Jasprit Bumrah was hardly missed despite his phenomenal presence in red ball cricket over the last 18 months.
For the Proteas, getting Quinton de Kock and Dean Elgar to do what they did in Vizag again will be extremely important and Faf will hope that doggedness rubs off on the likes of Aiden Markam at the top of the order too. The skipper himself could do with a little luck too and won’t mind a belter of a surface in Pune.
While India are unlikely to make any changes in their eleven, the South African think tank could be tempted to drop one of Senuran Muthusamy and Dane Piedt, who were taken to the cleaners by the Indian batsmen and bring in Lungi Ngidi, a surprise exclusion in the first Test.
Faf won’t want to play into Rohit’s arc like he did in the first Test as the Mumbaikar took a liking to the spinners and smashed a world record 13 sixes in the game.
South Africa without any doubts are missing the dynamism a Dale Steyn or Hashim Amla bring to the table, and Faf is well aware of how one wrong decision could make the already difficult task a whole lot tougher for his side.
To his credit however, the young side have shown grit and a hunger to take on what’s thrown at them in this difficult period, but India in India are a different proposition altogether.
Hence for South Africa to come away unscathed, Faf and the think tank will have to dot the i’s and cross the t’s to perfection – much like how the hosts are going about their business.
India (XI) Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Chesteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami.
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (captain), Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Theunis de Bruyn, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock (wk), Kagiso Rabada, Keshav Maharaj, Vernon Philander, Lungi Ngidi, Dane Piedt, Senuran Muthusamy, Zubayr Hamza, Heinrich Klaasen, Anrich Nortje.
Original of the video here