Cricket

What would be India's mission, as Kohli's men gearing up for the first test at Cape Town?

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Internet Desk: India will start their proceedings ahead of 12 tests overseas challenges in Cape Town against South Africa on Friday. India was right on top in the previous home season.

India will face England and Australia after three-match South Africa series and it will be a real test for the young Indian team as no other team managed to win a test series in South Africa. Travelers have to rely on the first bowling unit to get good results.

It will be the battle between two best teams in test format as far as the ICC rankings are a concern. Though, India has a healthy lead over the Hosts. Proteas will not be the no.1 team even they can whitewash the travellers.

The Proteas will be relying on their formidable fast bowling attack to dismantle India’s strong batting line-up, but after nine successive Test series wins, India are brimming with confidence and a belief that they can thrive in any conditions.

Six of India’s series wins have come at home and three others æ two in Sri Lanka and one in the West Indies — was in favourable conditions.

India last lost a series in 2014-15 when they were beaten 2-0 in Australia in a four-Test contest.

India boasts of a poor record in South Africa as they lost five out of six series with one drawn.

Since 1992, India have only won two out of 17 Tests played on South African soil — in 2006-07 under Rahul Dravid and in 2010-11 under M.S. Dhoni.

Significantly, though, the Indians have pushed South Africa hard on their two most recent tours — in 2010-11 and 2013-14, sharing the first series and narrowly losing the second.

Thirteen players of India’s 2013-14 side are part of the current squad they have become a vastly more experienced team, which has become accustomed to winning.

As fas as the venue is concerned, India have never won in four Tests here at Newlands, losing twice and drawing on the other two occasions.

And it remains to be seen if Kohli can do one better, in not only winning a third-ever Test in the Proteas’ backyard but also setting a noteworthy tone for India’s arduous overseas cycle.

This time around, India boasts of a potent pace attack which is capable of dismantling any batting side.

Despite the prevalent drought here, the green-top Newlands wicket continues to be at the centre of attention.

Given the pitch laid out for this first Test, India will go in with at least three pacers. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami are likely to get the nod.

Ravindra Jadeja is a doubtful starter owing to viral illness and this puts R Ashwin in contention to take the lone spinner’s spot in the playing eleven.

India also likely to opt for an extra in-form batsman in Rohit Sharma while Hardik Pandya could provide the all-round flavour to the team composition.

India’s batting line-up picks itself. Shikhar Dhawan has been declared fit and he would be the first-choice opener along with Murali Vijay ahead of KL Rahul.

Despite his lack of runs, it is unfathomable that India will leave out Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane in the very first Test of this overseas cycle.

Rohit didn’t feature in Kolkata Test against Sri Lanka when India last played on a green-top wicket. But since then, he has brought himself into contention with three hundreds across all formats.

Just like India, South Africa too has selection dilemmas.

 

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