Centurion: India’s record of nine consecutive series victories will be on the line, when they take on the confident South Africa in the second Test, starting here, Saturday.
The visitors will look to keep their hopes alive in the three-match series after the hosts took a 1-0 lead by registering a 72-run win in the first Test, which lasted only four days, in Cape Town.
Team India had an intense practice session at the Supersport Park, which lasted just under four hours. KL Rahul, Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara batted in adjacent nets, followed by Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, and then Hardik Pandya and Wriddhiman Saha, pointing to another five-batsman line-up. Ajinkya Rahane stood a mute spectator for a major part of this session.
The track seemed a hard and bouncy one with only a little sprinkling of green grass, quite unlike the one at Newlands. There is a school of thought that a track replicating the one in the first Test could have seen India dropping the spinner altogether.
Instead, the good bounce and lack of lateral movement might just play well for batsmen on both sides. It would surely bring in the spinner as the match progresses.
As such, it remains to be seen if Kohli changes his pace combination. Umesh Yadav batted and bowled in the nets with vigour, Thursday. Ishant Sharma, having recovered from illness, looked sharp as well.
In comparison to the pensive Indian camp, South Africa seemed at ease as they went about practicing for the second Test.
Their only issue is in finding an apt replacement for the injured Dale Steyn. Youngster Lungi Ngidi might get his first opportunity on home-soil. Even so, all-rounder Chris Morris is more likely to get the nod as Morris’ inclusion helps beef up both their batting and bowling.
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