By Nishad Pai Vaidya
Dec 25, 2013
Following an exhilarating first game at Johannesburg, India and South Africa move to Durban for the second and final Test of the series. A young Indian side exceeded all expectations in the first Test and put up a performance that shows their quality. On the other hand, South Africa can take heart from their spirited run-chase, although they did not cross the line. So, Durban is the deciding Test.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni would generally be a happy man and may retain the eleven that played the first Test. If there is any spot that is a little under doubt, it is that of Ravichandran Ashwin. The off-spinner hasn’t been successful overseas so far and there are calls to include Pragyan Ojha in his place. Given the confidence Ashwin enjoys from the team management, it is unlikely that the move would materialise and he may continue to be a part of the line-up.
Shikhar Dhawan would open the batting with Murali Vijay. While Vijay did decently well in the first Test, Dhawan failed in both innings and would want to make the most of this opportunity. Cheteshwar Pujara at No 3 and Virat Kohli at No 4 were fantastic in the first Test and they hold the key for India. They form a solid partnership and India would hope that they produce another good stand. Rohit Sharma needs some runs and this is his last chance to do it on this tour. Ajinkya Rahane should retain his place at No 6 and Dhoni would then come in at No 7. Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami would form the fast-bowling attack.
South Africa aren’t very clear about Morne Morkel’s fitness and it is a call they may take at the 11th hour. Plus Imran Tahir’s poor performance in the first Test means that South Africa may opt for a four-pronged pace attack to stun the Indians at Durban. Thus, Kyle Abbot and Rory Kleinveldt may come into the eleven to partner Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander.
South Africa would be pleased with their batting effort in the second innings and they may go in with the same line-up. Graeme Smith and Alviro Petersen would open the batting with Hashim Amla coming in at No 3. Amla didn’t make a mark in the first Test and given his prolific record against India, he may want to come to the party at Durban, which is his hometown. Jacques Kallis looked in fluent touch in the second innings and that is an encouraging sign. He bowled well and is now one short of taking 200 catches in Test cricket.
Faf du Plessis’s return to form means that the middle-order is further strengthened with AB de Villiers already being there. If there is any question, it may be on JP Duminy, who needs runs in this game.
In a nutshell, this series is very much alive as the Indians have performed well in the first Test. They return to the scene of their last Test win in South Africa, but the hosts would be motivated to finish the job and seal the deal their way.
South Africa (probable): Graeme Smith (c), Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers (wk), Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy, Rory Kleinveldt, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Kyle Abbot.
India (probable): Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami.
Time: 14:00 IST | 08:30 GMT
South Africa vs India — Live on Ten Cricket
Also on cricketcountry.com