India have never won a Test series in South Africa, which makes it one of their final few frontiers. The good thing for them is that they might not get a better chance than this to get the job done.
Not only are South Africa a shadow of their former self, but they also have not played Test cricket since June, India did so recently at home, and defeated defending Test champions New Zealand.
The team management has a selection dilemma on their hands. They will have to pick one of Shreyas Iyer and Hanuma Vihari or find a way to somehow squeeze both of them in the playing eleven. Keep in mind that there won’t be any Ravindra Jadeja on this tour so the think tank will have to make adjustments accordingly.
India last toured South Africa in early 2018 and lost the Test series 2-1 despite starting the opening Test in a devastating form that at one point had reduced their hosts to 12-3. But in the last few years, Indian bowlers have gained much more experience, performed in tougher conditions, and generally held their own wherever they have gone. Their batting has always been formidable and this time it’s no different.
There was a time when touring South Africa used to be one of the scariest assignments in world cricket, especially for Asian sides scared of bouncy pitches. It’s no more the case.
The Proteas have are a side in transition and have suffered a considerable dip in the quality they have on their books. Their pace attack still has quality but not like the days gone.
Anrich Nortje is out with a hip injury, which means that Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, and Duanne Olivier are expected to form the core of the pace unit, with Keshav Maharaj providing spin back up.
It’s the batting unit though that is a cause of concern. The last time South Africa hosted India, their middle-order had names such as AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, and Quinton de Kock. They’re all gone except for De Kock and the newcomers are nowhere near their class.