This is heading to be a clash of spinners, where on one hand Team India stands tall with the experience of Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra and a third yet-to-be-named spinner, the Proteas have also tweaked their style of play by studding their team with three spinners — Imran Tahir, Simon Harmer and Dane Piedt considering the spin-friendly conditions. By the look of it, a mouth-watering prospect is on the cards but Ankit Banerjee still prefers to jump the trigger and say, it is advantage India.

Bracing up for what promises to be an exhausting cricket tour of India, the Mahatma Gandhi-Nelson Mandela series to be precise, the spinners will hold the key for success. We could also witness Test matches getting over in the fourth day, just like what happened during the Ashes 2015 and India’s latest Sri Lanka triumph, where again the pacers and spinners played a pivotal role respectively.

There’s a high possibility that the story could be the same, a repeat telecast of sorts.

South Africa will be playing in conditions, which are not inclined in their favour, as they prefer pace and the ball coming nicely onto the bat at them as that propels stroke-making. On the other hand, Team India are next to being invincible at home. Ask former Australian captain Steve Waugh, who knows a thing or two about it, having faced the ignominy in 2001, where his side’s unbeaten streak lapsed.

That South Africa are playing three frontline spinners is a proactive decision, which could either be counter-productive or could back fire badly as the Indian batsmen are phenomenal against spinners. However, when they have a bat in their hand, they traditionally are not comfortable against combating spin, which means that the Indian spin wizards would be licking their fingers to have a go at them.

Ashwin is enjoying a dream run, having just bagged the Man-of-the-Series award down south in the island nation and finishing close with a total of 15 wickets was Mishra, who would be raring to go and make up for the lost time.

Designed by Srushti Takale
Designed by Srushti Takale

Over the last year, all three of Tahir, Piedt and Harmer have played, with varying degrees of success and will now compete for a spot in the starting XI. Harmer joins the bandwagon on the back of his last series success against Bangladesh, while Piedt came into contention after performing well on South Africa A’s recent trip to India and Tahir provides an attacking option, making sure South Africa have all bases covered. They could’ve also gone with Paul Harris, if they were looking for somebody to take wickets, as he also brings variety to the table. But he wasn’t considered. Apart from Tahir, who has been around for a while and has tasted success in moderation, Harmer and Piedt are very new to the arena so their task will be even tougher.

As the 72-day tournament begins in a few days from now, it is going to be a test of character and temperament more for South Africa, than India.

 

(A cricket geek to the tee, Ankit Banerjee smokes and snorts it all day long. The romance with the sport incepted since the 1996 World Cup semi-final. He is a winner of the 2011 edition of the All-India college cricket quiz.)