- India has not lost a Test Match at home since February 2017 and have eight wins and three drawn games since then
- Virat Kohli hit a career best 254 in the last game and is likely to continue his dominance in the upcoming match
- Injury to Keshav Maharaj has further depleted the already toothless South African bowling attack ahead of the game
This has been a one-sided show from India so far in the two test matches of the three-match series. While South Africa did come to India with a weak bowling attack and a fragile batting line-up, they were expected to offer stiff competition to the hosts but this hasn’t happened so far. If the first Test at Vishakhapatnam saw the visitors suffer a big defeat the last one at Pune could be summarized in one word ‘humiliation’. The side not only suffered its biggest defeat against the Indians by an innings and 137 runs but was completely at sea for the entire course of the game. There were few positives (if the team could even count) in the last Test Match.
The sides now go to JSCA International Stadium Complex, Ranchi to play the final game in the dead rubber with Indians already having won the series. Indian skipper Virat Kohli would be targeting a 3-0 whitewash further cementing their top spot in the ICC Test Championship points table while Faf du Plessis and his men would be looking for a face saving win. Given the form we have seen from the South African side so far and on a turning track at Ranchi it would require a miraculous comeback from the visitors to tame the Indian side that looks unstoppable at the moment.
Virat Kohli led by example in the last game smashing a career best double hundred. He would have been more impressed with the performance of his bowlers on what was a good batting track in the last game. Indian batting looks formidable with Mayank Agarwal in top form and Rohit Sharma too having impressed in the first game. Cheteshwar Pujara, Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Ravindra Jadeja have all toyed with South African bowlers and shall look to do the same in the next game.
Comeback man Umesh Yadav was brilliant with the new ball in the last game. Mohammad Shami also did well while Ravichandra Ashwin and Jadeja have foxed the visitors in both games. The skipper would want the side to continue with its dominance in the next game and gather steam ahead of the long home season.
Top order failure, unremarkable fast bowling attack and toothless spin bowling, problems for South African skipper Faf du Plessis has been too many to be fixed midway through the series. Injury to Keshav Maharaj, his best spinner, has made it worse for the captain. Going into the game he would have to fix the top order issue with Aiden Markram and Theunis de Bruyn looking in horrible form. Batting for the side would rest on the shoulders of Dean Elgar, the skipper himself and Quinton de Kock.
Apart from few lower order gritty knocks collectively they have failed as a batting unit. Kagiso Rabada has bowled his best on these placid wickets but found little support from others. Vernon Philander and Anrich Nortje will need to support him well with the new ball in the next. It will be a test of character for Dane Piedt who is likely to regain the spot in place of Maharaj as the premier spinner.
The pitch at Ranchi is expected to be a rank turner where batting would be extremely challenging in the 4th innings. Batting is expected to be easy on Day 1 and Day 2. The side that wins the toss would want to bat first on this surface and put up a big score on the board.
PITCH AND WEATHER CONDITIONS
The only Test Match played at Ranchi ended in a draw but not before it showed its character as a typical sub-continental track where batting is easy on Day 1 and 2 and spinners can wreak havoc as the game progresses. From the recent games that have been played here we expect the pitch to be a rank turner if the weather stays good.
There are forecast for rain and thunderstorms and South African camp wouldn’t mind that given how they have struggled against Indian spinners. Expect rain and cloudy skies on all five days of the game and the temperature to range around the 27°C mark.
The series so far has been a damp squib from the competitive point of view. Indians have had it easy in both games so far and won handsomely. The only positive for the South Africans has been their fight back from lower order which we saw in both games. This also speaks for the failure of the South African top order which has quite surprisingly fallen to Indian fast bowlers on wickets that has offered little in terms of seam and swing. Injury to their first-choice spinner has compounded the problem for the visitors and it would be remarkable for them to even earn a draw if the Indian team doesn’t dig its own grave.
As form stands for the two sides Indians would start as favorites and seem set to make it 3-0 in this series.