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South Africa (Playing XI): Hashim Amla, Aiden Markram(c), AB de Villiers, Khaya Zondo, Farhaan Behardien, Heinrich Klaasen(w), Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo, Imran Tahir, Morne Morkel, Lungisani Ngidi
India (Playing XI): Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli(c), Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Hardik Pandya, MS Dhoni(w), Shardul Thakur, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal
Aiden Markram, South Africa captain: We weren’t too fazed about what we were going to do today. We are striving towards putting a perfect game together. Definitely looking to get a good score and Centurion is a good batting wicket, so we are happy to bat and put a good score on the board. Four changes: Morris back in the team along with Behardien, Tahir, Zondo.
Virat Kohli, India captain: Bowling first. It’s a hard deck again. The new ball will be at play. We want to win, and we would like to challenge ourselves with a chase today. We want to ask our bowlers to do something which may not be the case in a crunch game. Need to embrace a situation that is a little uncomfortable. Shardul Thakur comes in and Bhuvneshwar has been rested because the workload has taken a toll on his body.
India have won the toss and have opted to field
P.S.: MS Dhoni edges closer to the elite 10,000-run club – he needs just 33 to get there. However, if South Africa fail to make early inroads again, Dhoni may record yet another DNB (Did not bat) against his name. Either way, the Indian fans will have their fingers (and toes) crossed.
On that note, it’s Rishi Roy in a commentary studio buzzing with speculation (yeah, even in a dead-rubber :O) bringing you the coverage along with Raju Peethala, Vineet Anantharaman, Srivathsa, Sagar Chawla, and Mukesh. So sit back, relax, grab some snacks and popcorn, and settle in for a good 8 hours of watching the cream of the world’s cricketers locking horns in a riveting encounter. We’ll be back with the toss and teams in a moment.
Markram, however, made it quite clear in the post-match presentation at Port Elizabeth that “There’s a lot of pride to play for”, and India are certainly not the kind of predators that loosens their jaws with their prey only half-dead. They know it ain’t over until it’s over, meaning that we have a cracker of a game on the cards.
The South African bowling has been relatively good but hasn’t been as incisive enough with the new ball as it was with the red cherry a few weeks ago. They simply haven’t taken enough wickets up front to expose the Indian middle-order, which seems to be shaky at best, going by – umm – current form.
And South Africa – oh well, they seem to have lost the plot. Ottis Gibson, the South African coach, resorted to saying “You take three of your best batsmen out of any team in the world, they will struggle”. True, but it shows that South Africa have simply not been up to the task and they simply have no justification other than not being able to play their first-choice XI. Their struggles against wristspin and their inability to read the variations off the hand have resulted in their downfall on the relatively dry wickets around the country.
Bumrah and Chahal have been spotted bowling in the nets. Kaushik’s keen eye hasn’t spotted Bhuvi yet. Are India planning on resting him? Or will Bumrah be rested, given that he has bowled the second most number of deliveries this year (877)? FYI, Kagiso Rabada tops that list with 887. He has spotted Shardul Thakur bowling though. Perhaps India will test their bench-strength? Only time will tell I suppose.