After sharing the trophy in the T20I sojourn, now the team India will take on South Africa in a three-match Test series. Last time when these teams collided, it was a spicy treat with the fast bowlers ruling the roost. If things are to go by then the Indian team will return the favour by presenting turning tracks. Though the South African side is short of ammunition they have the talent to stun the No.1 ranked Test team.
India will be eager to continue their dream run while the visitors will be hoping for a headstart in their Test Championship journey. Having a close look at both the squads it can be said that there will be some interesting one-on-one battles throughout the series. Apart from that, some players will be eager to prove a point as their Test career is at crossroads. They need to regain their touch to keep their place in the side.
Here we bring you 5 players whose Test career depends on the upcoming series between India and South Africa:
1) Rohit Sharma
In the present scenario, the cricketer who can tonk the white-ball with audacity and power in equal measure is Rohit Sharma. When the hitman bats, the spectators enjoy it like a symphony. Especially since his promotion as an opener in the limited-overs format, Rohit has generated some mind-boggling stats. On some occasions, he has even outclassed Virat Kohli which is an accomplishment in itself considering the track record of Indian skipper in ODIs.
Now the team management is backing him to come good in a similar role in Tests. For an individual who has stroked 3 double centuries in ODI cricket, he is also expected to carry the charge in the whites. Unfortunately, things haven’t panned out as he would have liked as he has failed to bat for longer periods. He has usually thrown away his starts with rash shots.
It seems middle-order batting is not his forte and has been given a push in the batting position. It will be a challenge for him to open the innings in longer format but if the experiment doesn’t work out then he might have to say goodbye to this format.
2) Faf Du Plessis
If the South African team has to put up a fight to this Indian side in their home conditions, then their senior players will have to stand up. One of them is their skipper, Faf Du Plessis who will be playing his first game after the team’s World Cup debacle. The right-hander is one of the underrated players in world cricket as he has proved his mettle in the toughest of situations.
In the last decade or so he has held the Proteas’ batting order along with AB De Villiers and Hashim Amla. He has the technique to succeed in all conditions. Du Plessis is a highly-skilled player and his Test average of 43 is the validation of the point. However, he has not been able to break the code in India as he has scored a mere 60 runs in 7 innings.
It is a number which will haunt him when he will be taking the field against the quality Indian tweakers. Even his captaincy will be on the line after his poor returns in the recent outings. At 35, time is running out for Faf and a bad series might put his red-ball career hanging on a thread.
3) Wriddhiman Saha
India has done the right thing by opting for Wriddhiman Saha in the series opener. Though Rishabh Pant has thrived in his short stint as a batsman in red-ball cricket he has a long way to go to become the first choice keeper in the whites. With his textbook style, Saha is still the best bet purely on his keeping credentials. He is a cricketer who can also be trusted with his batting and his average of 31 is a good number for the one who has mostly batted in the lower-order.
On turning tracks he is the perfect foil for the Indian spinners as he hardly makes mistakes behind the stumps. Although the Bengal cricketer will be happy to return to the playing XI he has his own set of challenges. He will be under pressure to perform consistently as he has been given an opportunity ahead of emerging talent like Pant.
He is already in the final lap of his professional life and now the team has also quality back-up options in the form of Srikar Barat and Narayan Jagadeesan. Injuries have hampered him in crucial stages of his career and another one will not help his case either. Saha will have to start from scratch and this series will decide the fate of his Test career.
4) Ravichandran Ashwin
It might surprise everybody to see the name of Ravichandran Ashwin in this list but it is a sad truth that has to be accepted with an open mind. The off-spinner is one of the best bowlers to represent the country in the classic format. On his way to 343 Test wickets, he has broken many records and also became the ICC cricketer of the year in 2016.
Thereafter with the 4 Test hundreds he has shown his batting capabilities on several occasions. Truly Ashwin has inscribed his name in the history books and in his prime nobody could match his aura. There is no doubt that the office will be leading the bowling department on home conditions but of late he has not been a regular in the team’s plans. Even in their trip to the Caribbean land Ravindra Jadeja got the nod ahead of him.
Another quite shocking thing is his repeated batting failures. He has looked vulnerable with the bat in his hand and has not lived up to the tag of an all-rounder. The frequent niggles have been a curse and his omission from the limited-overs format has further affected his confidence. Surely his spells against Proteas will lay down the marker for the rest of his cricketing journey.
5) Dane Piedt
To beat India on their home turf, the opposition has to spin a web against the Indian batsmen. It means the visiting tweakers will have to outperform their Indian counterparts. Dane Piedt is part of that group who has a big task on his hand to outfox the quality players of spin. The off-spinner may be the second option after Keshav Maharaj but he can surprise any batting group with his skillset. He has abundant first-class experience and with his action, he might enjoy bowling on Indian surfaces.
Recently the Indian team’s struggle against the off-spinners will boost his confidence. Surprisingly he has been unable to replicate his domestic form at the international level. Piedt made his debut way back in 2014 and till now he has only played 7 Test matches which shows that he is a reserve option rather than an attacking one.
He might have age on his side but the Proteas also have Senuran Muthusamy. It is a make or break situation for him and he will have to quickly prove his worth in the playing XI. To prolong his red-ball career he will have to do what Monty Panesar did in 2012 when England stumped India in their den.
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