key-batteles

With the series sealed in Nagpur, the fourth and the final Test between India and South Africa that starts in Delhi from December 3 is of little significance as far as result is concerned. However, there is plenty of motivation for both the sides coming in to the game. For India, it is a golden chance to achieve the rare feat of blanking a strong South African team. Under an aggressive captain in Virat Kohli, the team has looked hungry to win and there is no reason why Delhi Test would be any different. For South Africa, the game provides an opportunity to salvage some pride. They did well to win the limited-overs series early on and thus would want to cap off the long tour with a win. On the whole, the match will offer an exciting contest between bat and ball. Chinmay Jawalekar presents a look at four prospective key battles from the match: FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs South Africa 2015, 4th Test at Feroz Shah Kotla.

Murali Vijay vs Morne Morkel: Murali Vijay has by far been the best batsman for India in the series. In the low-scoring match at Nagpur, his 40 runs in the first innings turned out to be the highest individual score of the match. On the other hand, Morne Morkel got him twice in the same Test. Morkel, who ended-up with six wickets in the match otherwise dominated by spinners, troubled Vijay the most. This battle is set to resume in the fourth Test at Delhi as well, where reported overcast conditions will give Morkel an edge, while Vijay would look to continue his good run. Read: India vs South Africa 2015, 4th Test at Delhi, Preview: Visitors look to salvage pride in Gandhi-Mandela Series 2015.

Cheteshwar Pujara vs South African spinners: After Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara has looked most comfortable in the middle on the challenging surfaces. His 31 and 77 in Mohali and 21 and 31 in Nagpur were crucial in setting up India’s victories in the low-scoring games. He has shown enough resilience against the likes of Morkel, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada so far. However, the dogged batsman has struggled a bit against the South African spinners as he has been dismissed only by them in the series. In the four innings that he has played, he has been dismissed by Imran Tahir, Simon Harmer, Dean Elgar and JP Duminy once each. This makes his battle with the Proteas tweakers in the fourth Test even more interesting. Read: Indian batsmen need to step up against South Africa in 4th Test at Delhi.

Indian spinners vs AB de Villiers: After a splendid run in the limited-overs series, a lot was expected of South African superstar batsman AB de Villiers. The ‘Superman’ did get two fifties in the first two Tests, but could not avoid his team from going down in the series. The third Test was particularly bad for him, as he got dismissed in single digits in both the innings. In all, the five innings that he has played so far in the series, he has been dismissed by a tweaker. Amit Mishra and Ravindra Jadeja have got him two times each while Ashwin got him once in Nagpur. The trio will once again look to dominate world’s top ranked batsman when the Delhi Test gets underway on December 3. On the other hand, de Villiers would like to bring all his experience and knowledge of Indian conditions on the table and look to give trio a tough fight. This surely will be the battle to look out for. Read: India vs South Africa 2015, 4th Test: Feroz Shah Kotla not likely to offer respite to spin-ravaged visitors.

Ravichandran Ashwin vs JP Duminy: Duminy, who missed the first Test in Mohali, played in the next two games at Bengaluru and Nagpur. In the three innings that he played, he displayed enough mettle to take on the mighty Indian spin trio. Especially in the first innings in Nagpur, Duminy’s 35 out of South Africa’s total of 79 stood apart on the rank turner. On the other hand, Ashwin has had the last laugh on two occasions, when he got better of Duminy. Ashwin becomes all the more threatening for Duminy as the latter is a left-hander. The fourth Test will be yet another opportunity for the two to showcase their skills and battle it out in the middle.

(A self-confessed cricket freak, Chinmay Jawalekar is a senior writer with CricLife and CricketCountry. When not writing or following cricket, he loves to read, eat and sleep. He can be followed here @CricfreakTweets)