South Africa’s Test campaign in India has been a disastrous one thus far. After their 203-run defeat in Visakhapatnam, the team, led by Faf du Plessis, slumped to a loss by an innings and 137 runs at the MCA Stadium in Pune. Ahead of the third and final Test in Ranchi, starting October 19, the Proteas have been jolted with a body blow. Keshav Maharaj has been ruled out of the encounter.
The left-arm spinner developed an injury on his right shoulder and won’t be able to attain the desired level of fitness ahead of the contest. George Linde has been named as his replacement as per reports in Cricbuzz. Linde got a national call-up during the three-match T20I series in India, but didn’t get a game. Prior to that, he played for the South Africa ‘A’ side in Thiruvananthapuram.
Keshav Maharaj shouldering responsibility
Maharaj had to shoulder a lot of responsibility in the Test series, being the premier spinner of the Proteas. After the second Test, the Durban-born is their leading wicket-taker with six wickets. The left-arm spinner had to work hard for his wickets with average and strike-rate of 85.66 and 127 respectively. Combing the first two Tests, the 29-year-old was entrusted to bowl as many as 127 overs.
Kagiso Rabada has bowled the second-highest number of overs (67) for them, showing how much work Maharaj had to do in hot and humid conditions. In the previous Test, the left-arm spinner picked up his 100th wicket in the format, getting rid of Ajinkya Rahane. In his absence, it remains to be seen how skipper Faf du Plessis distributes the bowling responsibility among his mates.
Maharaj also showed resilience with the bat in hand. In the first innings of the Pune Test, he notched his maiden half-century. He played out as many 229 deliveries, more than even some of the specialist batters. In two games, Maharaj got 103 runs at an average of 25.75 with a top score of 72.
Coming to Linde, he has been a prolific player in the South African domestic circuit. In 45 List A matches, the southpaw has 160 wickets with nine five-wicket hauls and best figures of 7/64. With the bat, Linde has 1497 runs in 65 innings at an average of 25.81 with one century and nine fifties.
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