Online legacy as India faces South Africa in breakthrough series – The New Indian Express

Express news service

CHENNAI: Lost amid all the noise at Virat Kohli’s pre-departure press conference ahead of the South Africa tour last month was his claim that they were able to do ‘something special’ in the nation Rainbow. Something special like winning the first Test Series in 30 years of travel.

“We are very well placed in terms of experience, belief and confidence that this time around we can do something special and get the results we want as a team,” he said. “South Africa is a place where we haven’t won a series yet. We are therefore very motivated to do so. And the mindset is always to go out there and win a series in any country that we play in.

It is in this prism that the third Test will be played, which will begin on Tuesday in Cape Town. In Isolation, this is decisive. When you consider the big picture, the legacy of this overseas team is at stake. It’s not hyperbole to say that. Since leaving South Africa three years ago, they have won everywhere except New Zealand.

They beat the West Indies in the West Indies, got the better of Australia twice and led England to England. The seeds for such a dominant away runaway – at a time when most teams struggled to win in foreign conditions – were of course sown in the third test of the 2018 series at the Wanderers. It might have been ‘dead rubber’, but Kohli & Co. used that victory as a platform to create an uncompromising winning machine.

Now this machine may be facing its biggest test at a site where India has failed to win in five attempts. In fact, the hosts have a good record in Cape Town, where they have lost just twice (England and Australia) in the last 19 attempts.

In terms of team news, the visitors received a big boost as well as a setback. While Kohli will lead the squad, he confirmed in the pre-match press conference on Monday, pacer Mohammed Siraj, who suffered a hamstring injury in the second test, did not fail. restored.

These two pieces of information are therefore the best place to start. To replace Siraj, they will call on either Ishant Sharma or Umesh Yadav. The two offer contrasting benefits, but Kohli said management has yet to decide who will get the green light.

“We still have to sit down,” he said. “Myself, head coach (Rahul Dravid) and vice-captain (KL Rahul) not yet decided… I say this because of the strength of the bench. It’s hard for us to know who will play because everyone is at their peak… these things become a topic of discussion. You obviously have to have a health talk around this and be okay with it. But I would prefer to be in this position.

Focus on the middle order, again

The larger discussion, however, will likely focus on the mid-order composition of the game. With Kohli arriving, it’s likely that a batter will have to sit down. Considering that it is obvious that visitors will not change their pattern of five bowlers no matter what, one of the Hanuma Vihari, Ajinkya Rahane or Cheteshwar Pujara could be forced to operate the drinks.

With Rishabh Pant also battling a long stretch of indifferent form (under 20 average since the World Test Championship final), that adds up to four batting pitches with not too many points lately (Kohli’s trio , Rahane and Pujara together contribute below 90 since this final against the Kiwis).

If one read between the lines, visitors might well opt for Kohli’s proven combination sandwiched between Pujara and Rahane. “I obviously cannot determine when we will have a transition,” he said.

“It can’t be forced by individuals, I think. If you watch the last test, Jinks (Rahane) and Pujara, the way they beat, that experience is obviously invaluable to us, especially in series like these where you know the guys have done the job in the past. . I think we have to let the transition take place on its own and not necessarily force people into difficult situations.

Whatever they choose, the challenges will be similar to those they faced in Centurion and Johannesburg. The board should have rhythm – SA skipper Dean Elgar said so – so it’s up to the batters to supplement the bowlers. If they can do it, India might have a decent chance of making a long-held testing dream come true. Win a Test Series on South African soil.

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