India v South Africa: Top five player battles to look out for
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After a closely fought Twenty20 International series, which ended in a 1-1 draw, the focus now shifts to the longest format which promises both – a tough contest and some exciting player battles to look forward to.
Both teams have world-class players in their line-ups, who will go head-to-head over the next three weeks. Here’s a look at some of the more exciting match-ups.
Virat Kohli v Kagiso Rabada
The clash between the Indian skipper and South Africa’s bowling sensation is arguably the most anticipated one of the series. Rabada, who made his Test debut against India in 2015, had bagged Kohli as his first Test wicket and since then, has taken giant strides as a Test bowler. The tall paceman boasts a bowling strike-rate of 38.81 – the best among bowlers with more than 150 Test wickets. Kohli had aggregated 286 runs from three Tests when these two sides last met in 2017-18 and will look to produce the same goods at home.
Dean Elgar v Ravichandran Ashwin
Ravichandran Ashwin, the off-spinner is particularly lethal against left-handers. His career bowling average of 25.43 drops below 20 against left-handers. He has accounted for top batsmen like David Warner and Alistair Cook nine times each in Test cricket. Elgar, one of South Africa’s most consistent batsmen in Tests, has found himself wanting against Ashwin, being dismissed five times by the off-spinner in 11 innings.
Faf du Plessis v Ravindra Jadeja
South Africa’s senior-most batsman, their skipper, Faf du Plessis will have to put all his skills and experience into play to try and hold his team’s batting together against a quality bowling attack like India. Du Plessis has shown his class as a white-ball player on Indian soil but has failed to live up to his reputation in Tests, managing just 60 runs from seven innings on the previous tour. He fell to spin on each of those occasions, with Jadeja being his nemesis in four innings.
Keshav Maharaj v Rishab Pant
Keshav Maharaj has been one of South Africa’s unsung heroes in red-ball cricket for the last few years with his accurate bowling. The left-arm spinner registered bowling figures of 9/129 against Sri Lanka last year – the second-best by a South African after Hugh Tayfield’s 9/113 against England in 1957. Pant’s aggressive streak and Maharaj’s accuracy promise an exhilarating contest between bat and ball.
Vernon Philander v Chateshwar Pujara
Both Philander and Pujara symbolise patience, skill and discipline with their respective crafts. Pujara struggled during the South Africa tour in 2017-18, managing just 100 runs from six innings before returning in flying colours against Australia a year later, aggregating 521 runs at an average of 74.43 to power India to a historic win Down Under. Philander was instrumental in South Africa rising to the top position in Test Rankings in 2012.