India look to complete whitewash against S.Africa - GulfToday

India look to complete whitewash against S.Africa

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India’s captain Virat Kohli (right) and Rohit Sharma (centre) run past team-mate Ajinkya Rahane during a training session in Ranchi on Friday. Associated Press

With the series already in their kitty, Team India will aim to go for the kill and clean sweep the three-Test rubber when they face a demoralised South African team in the final match beginning Saturday at the JSCA Stadium.

The hosts dominated the first two matches in all the three aspects of the game and dented the confidence of the Proteas severely.

They won the first Test by 203 runs in Vizag and went on to better their performance in the next game, registering a comprehensive victory by an innings and 137 runs in Pune.

However, the visitors can hardly expect any respite in Ranchi as Virat Kohli’s men would like earn another 40 points and extend their lead in the World Test Championship.

“We are not going to take the foot off the gas in the third Test. We are looking for a result and hopefully make it 3-0. No one is going to relax at any stage, that is a guarantee,” Kohli had said after the Pune Test.

The Indian team has ticked all the boxes in the series so far. Their batsmen are scoring heavily, the spinners are picking wickets at regular intervals and the pacers have been relentless.

South Africa, on the other hand, have just not been able to cope up with the conditions on offer. The tracks, on which the two matches have been played so far, were by no means rank turners. They have been just not been able to come with a performance to match that of the Indians.

Their batters seem to be out of form. Barring contributions from the lower order, the top order batsmen have not been able to score big and put pressure on the Indian bowlers.

The Proteas have not been able to make use of their first innings, a thing which skipper Faf du Plessis wants his batsmen to focus upon.

“We need to put big runs on the board in the first innings,” said du Plessis in the pre-match presser. “When you get runs in the first innings anything from there is possible. For us first innings runs will be vital and then anything could happen in the second innings,” he added.

Du Plessis, heading a young side after Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn hung up their boots, has had a respectable series with one 55 and one 64 but now wants to kick on to three figures.

“The fact that I have done it (scored 50) twice already this series, there is no reason for me not to go and get a big one,” he told reporters.

“That’s a challenge for myself because I understand that sixties is not going to win Test matches for us. I need to bat big like the Indian team has done and score big runs.”

Opening batsman Dean Elgar has been the only standout South Africa performer with his 160 in the first match. Du Plessis said his side needed to change its mentality to compete against the hosts.

“How can the batsman be hungry for big runs? From the bowling point of view how can we get 20 wickets? We haven’t done that this series,” he said.

“If we do those things, we will compete with India.”

Despite having lost the series, du Plessis said the Ranchi game was still important as points in the new ICC World Test Championship were still up for grabs.

Du Plessis says he may send out a substitute for the toss for Saturday’s match against India after nine straight losses flipping the coin in Asian Tests.

Du Plessis said that South Africa can turn their fortunes around, “so hoping that we can start with the toss.”

“Probably I will send somebody else to the toss tomorrow, I’ll give you that, because my record so far hasn’t been great, and then if we put big runs on the board in the first innings, that’s where we need to start.”

However, their batting woes have been compounded following the loss of Aiden Markram, who has been ruled out of the Ranchi Test after he injured his wrist by lashing out at a solid object following the culmination of the Pune Test.

Their bowling unit, despite consisting the likes of Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander, has been ineffective to put pressure on the Indian batters. And in the absence of their most experienced spinner Keshav Maharaj, du Plessis can find it even more difficult to contain the Indian batters.

It would be highly surprising if the Proteas can stop the Indians from making it 3-0 and earn their first points in the championship.

Meanwhile, Jharkhand left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem has been added to the Indian squad after Kuldeep Yadav complained of left shoulder pain on Friday.

“The decision to add Nadeem was made after Mr Kuldeep Yadav complained of left shoulder pain on Friday,” the Board of Control for cricket in India (BCCI) said in a statement.

Kuldeep, a left-arm wrist spinner and a regular in India’s limited-overs teams, was not part of the XI in the first two Tests comfortably won by the hosts.

The 30-year-old Nadeem, a left-arm spinner, has been a top performer for his state Jharkhand and India A, taking 424 wickets in 110 first-class matches.

Agence France-Presse