Cape Town gears up for the much-anticipated finale as India eye history
Cape Town is all set as it will play host to the rollicking finale of a perfectly-balanced Test series. With the series tied at 1-1, both countries will step foot with contrasting stakes on the line. For India, it will be a matter of history wherein for South Africa it will be a matter of pride.
India penned a historic win at the Centurion to go up 1-0 in the series and promised glimpses of history at Wanderers too, only to be denied in the dying moments of the second Test after Dean Elgar led the Proteas from the front.
Despite the Indian fast bowlers squeezing out their variegated arsenal at the Wanderers, Elgar took a firm stand that allowed South Africa to claw back into the contest despite a balanced affair for a lion’s share of the first three days.
Rahul Dravid will have an intensified frown on his face after two batting fiascos in a span of just three days. Barring KL Rahul, most of the Indian batters seemed to be out of their element in the first innings against the brutal pace trident of South Africa. Young Marco Jansen claimed his second four-fer in the series.
The Indian fast-bowlers scripted a strong counterblast as Shardul Thakur penned history at the Wanderers, beating Harbhajan Singh’s illustrious figures at Cape Town. He racked up seven crucial scalps to bundle out the Proteas for a modest 229, allowing them to pile up a paltry lead of just 27 runs.
Sadly, for India, despite, two of their best batters returning to form in the second innings, the remainder of the batting lineup crumbled down like a house of cards caught in the eye of the storm. Pujara and Rahane stitched a fine stand for the third wicket only to be followed by some mindless batting from the Indian tail. Hanuma Vihari waged a single-handed war to stay unbeaten for 40 but that wasn’t enough for India to pile up a monumental target.
South Africa had a jittery start but was cruising in no time as their skipper spearheaded the chase. As the two teams arrive at Cape Town, there will be bloody-minded intent from both sides as no one will be looking to settle for anything less than the series.
India will be buoyed by indications of their skipper’s return while they will also be divested of one of their primary fast bowlers, Mohammed Siraj who sustained a niggle in the second Test.
South Africa will rely heavily on their fast-bowling quartet to derail the Indians on a pitch that has always been a paradise for express bowlers with blood on their minds.
Virat Kohli will be returning to the team for the much-anticipated finale with Hanuma Vihari being the likeliest one to face an axe despite his valiant 40 in the second innings.
Mohammed Siraj will also be out of action as he took a knock at Jo’burg and Dravid will most likely be resorting to an experienced Ishant Sharma.
South Africa already lost Anrich Nortje in the opening Test while they had to come to the second Test without the services of seasoned wicket-keeper, Quinton de Kock after the latter hung his boots.
They will most likely keep an identical combination of the team that won at the Wanderers. There were talks of the hosts shuffling through their batting ranks but after a sumptuous display in the second Test, they fizzled out.
India vs South Africa, (Test series, 3rd Test)
Venue: Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
Date: January 11-15, 2022
Time: 1:30 PM IST
South Africa: 16
Sachin Tendulkar leads the Indian run-scorers at Newlands with a total of 489 runs from the 4 Test matches that he has played at a stunning average of 81.50.
Harbhajan Singh penned history at Newlands in 2011 against South Africa as he claimed 7 wickets in the second innings of the Test at a fine economy rate of 3.15.
Sachin Tendulkar was involved in two 150 runs partnerships at the Newlands and has so far been the only Indian batter to do so. He stitched a momentous stand of 222 runs with Mohammad Azharuddin and he forged another fine partnership with Gautam Gambhir that extended for 176 runs.
Indian bowlers have managed just two fifers at Newlands so far and they have come through Harbhajan Singh who claimed 7 wickets in 2011 and the other one to pull off this starry figure has been Sreesanth who conjured a fifer in the same Test.
India: Virat Kohli (Captain), KL Rahul (VC), Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Mohd. Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Md. Siraj, Priyank Panchal.
South Africa: Dean Elgar (c), Temba Bavuma (vc), Quinton de Kock (wk), Kagiso Rabada, Sarel Erwee, Beuran Hendricks, George Linde, Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder, Keegan Petersen , Rassie van der Dussen , Kyle Verreynne , Marco Jansen , Glenton Stuurman , Prenelan Subrayen, Sisanda Magala, Ryan Rickelton, Duanne Olivier.