Dominant India aim to conquer Pune fortress against battered SA in sec0nd Test - GulfToday

Dominant India aim to conquer Pune fortress against battered SA in sec0nd Test

Dominant India  aim to conquer  Pune fortress  against battered SA in sec0nd Test

Indian cricketer Rohit Sharma attends a practice session ahead of the second Test against South Africa in Pune, India, on Wednesday. Associated Press

After registering a comprehensive 203-run victory in Visakhapatnam, India will look to continue with their dominant run and seal the ongoing three-Test series when they face South Africa in the second match beginning Thursday at the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) Stadium.

In the first Test, the hosts were absolutely ruthless in all departments. Rohit Sharma marked his foray into Test match opening, with twin hundreds shattering many records while his opening partner Mayank Agarwal too scored a double-ton, thus pleasing the entire team management.

The duo laid the foundation for the team and it was followed by the combined efforts from Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami that the team extended their cent per cent win record in the ICC World Test Championship.

However, they would be wary of the fact that Pune is the only venue of India’s solitary defeat, against Australia in 2017, at home in over six years -- a fact which will charge Virat Kohli and his men to set the records right.

South Africa, on the other hand, will try to take confidence from their first innings effort to score 431 in the previous Test and put in a bettor performance with both bat and ball to prevent India from clinching a record-breaking win in Pune.

Faf du Plessis will be expecting his bowlers for a lot more accuracy and incisiveness, particularly in the spin department.

India are unlikely to make any change to their Playing XI while the Proteas might bring in an extra pacer to make early inroads into the strong Indian batting line-up.

Meanwhile, Kohli on Wednesday called for a change in the points system for the new world Test championship, saying that an away win should get double the reward.

He insisted that the new championship has already improved standards in Tests.

“If you would have asked me to make the points table, I would give double the points for an away Test win,” Kohli said.

He said the change could be made for the second tournament. The first championship that started on August 1 will see the nine top nations competing in series over two years. The top two teams in the league will dispute a final.

According to Kohli, the new championship format has given Test cricket a shot in the arm.

“In earlier situations, in a three-match series you probably would have played out a draw, but teams are going to go for wins and get those extra points. So I think it’s great for Test cricket,” he said.

“It will be much more demanding on the players now, which is a good thing as it will keep the standard of Test cricket high.”

Kohli also hailed the turnaround by his new batting and bowling heroes Sharma and Shami in the South Africa series.

The 32-year-old “is feeling absolutely at home at the top of the order and for us as a team it’s a huge bonus”, Kohli said.

He added that Sharma had speeded up the first Test to give the bowlers more time to attack the South African batsmen.

“If a guy like him at the top of the order plays the way he does, he did in the last game, then we are going to be in situations to go for victories in most of the Test matches.”

Shami took 5-35 as India bowled out the tourists for 191 to complete victory.

The 29-year-old, who has struggled with his weight, injury and personal legal issues, also claimed a hat-trick in the World Cup.

“Now, he is taking the responsibility. We don’t need to push Shami anymore,” said Kohli, who added that the bowler was a master of reverse swing.

“I think on the pitches we play, I don’t see anyone with so much seam movement.”

Shami took three key wickets on the final day of the Test, including South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis for 13, to hit the tourists’ resistance.

“He is someone who can change the complexion of the match totally when you don’t see it coming. His skill is obviously there for everyone to see,” said Kohli.

“Especially, in the second innings, when the situations are difficult he comes in and does the job every time. It’s great.”

Agencies