India seeks for consolatory win, Protean eyes on whitewash

India would be aiming to make the right selections before the third test to avoid a humiliating whitewash against the hosts. The hosts have already sealed the series after winning two consecutive games in Cape Town and Centurion by 72 and 135 runs respectively. The third test will start on Wednesday at the Wanderers. Though India will hold the crown if the series ends with a whitewash, it will a tough competition to be recognized as the best test team in the world. The visitors have to play an aggressive brand of cricket to restore their lost pride.

This was the first overseas Test series loss for India under Virat Kohli. The tour has also ended India’s streak of nine consecutive series’ wins since 2015. However, India’s performance at Wanderers has been quite satisfactory as they have never beaten by the hosts in the four encounters(3 draws, 1 win). South Africa will also be looking towards improving their record on this ground as they have won five matches with a win percentage of 29 since 2002-03.

Although the bowlers have done their job superbly, batting has been an awful mess. Apart from Virat and Pandya, no one has shown a deep intent to score runs and take away the win from the hosts. Virat’s 153 and Pandya’s 93 are the only standout performance in the series from Indians. Indian batsmen have to score gritty runs in the crunch moments of the match.

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The fielding has also been very ineffective as they have dropped many crucial catches in slips whereas South Africa has been dominant in the fielding picking up some brilliant catches. Since both games of the series have been low-scoring,   ground fielding and slip catching are very important aspects but India definitely lacks skills in those departments. A couple of changes are expected before the last test. Parthiv Patel would have to make way for Dinesh Karthik as he had a track record of being a sloppy keeper. He dropped some very easy and crucial catches at Centurion.

Also, Rahane’s exclusion from the series has been a big riddle. Rahane has been one of the most consistent batsmen in overseas conditions. He also has the highest average among Indian batsmen on foreign soil. He must be surely picked for the final test as a replacement for Rohit Sharma who has not yet performed well on the tour just scoring 78 runs with a poor average of 19.50.

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However, South Africa does not have any major selection headaches as opener Aiden Markram, who sustained a mild thigh strain during the second Test, is expected to be fit for this match.

Batsman Temba Bavuma has been ruled out of this match owing to a fractured finger, but all-rounders Chris Morris and Theunis de Bruyn provide adequate cover.

After sealing the series in Centurion, skipper Faf du Plessis had pointed out that he wouldn’t like to take the ‘foot off the gas pedal’ as the Proteas push towards the no.1 Test ranking (attainable if they whitewash India 3-0 and beat Australia at least 2-0, as per ICC Test rankings predictor).

 

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