South Africa Aim For Whitewash Also Eye To Close In On No1 Spot - Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more


South Africa aim for whitewash, also eye closing in on No.1 spot

Cricket news - South Africa aim for whitewash, also eye closing in on No.1 spot

The series may have been decided, but for South Africa and India there is a parallel contest that will continue in the third Test at the Wanderers, which starts on Wednesday (January 24). It is the contest to be recognised as the best Test team in the world, a title that will be up for grabs over the coming months.

The crown still rests on India's head for the moment, but it is sitting a little less firmly than before. Not only has their winning run in Test series been ended the moment they encountered a top-five opponent abroad, but there is a sense of uneasiness about how they have gone about their business in South Africa - one that has been most evident in their muddled selection thinking. While they can not lose their No. 1 ranking this week, they must use the third Test to find a formula for overseas success that can sustain their position in the year to come, when further examinations await in England and Australia.

For South Africa to overtake them on the rankings table, victory at the Wanderers is crucial - the game is essentially worth a four-point swing. Win 3-0 and they will have the opportunity to topple India during Australia's tour in March, when they would need to win the series by two clear Tests. If they lose, they will be reliant on India slipping up in England. With a green pitch set to aid the seamers this week, a draw looks very unlikely, so a straight shootout beckons.

Just as India will want to establish their best game plans for their upcoming tour of England, so South Africa will want to fine-tune theirs for the visit of Australia. Faf du Plessis gave some insight into how South Africa are looking at that series when he said: "You're going to have two fantastic bowling attacks smashing it out and batters just trying to survive. Australia as a team - if I look at them right now, their bowling is definitely their strength, they have a few world-class batsmen but there are a few gaps in their batting line-up that if you can expose, you can get stuck into them.

"It's not too dissimilar to the Indian cricket team right now. And we felt the same about the English team, very strong bowling attack but if you can somehow put a good total on the board, which we have done in this series, your bowlers should be able to be better in their own conditions."

While this is the broader context in which the third Test will be played, neither side will be getting ahead of themselves. Du Plessis confirmed after the Centurion win that South Africa would be prioritising a 3-0 whitewash, which means they will pick their strongest team for the Test rather than experimenting for the next series. Likewise India are looking to build on the promising elements from the first two Tests, in which they were competitive for extended periods. "We are going to treat this Test as an individual Test match - we need to come out and play our best cricket and try to be in the same positions we were in the first two Tests and then try to consolidate on it and actually close the game," said Virat Kohli.

The first two Tests have been absorbing of divergent affairs. With the Wanderers likely to be the quickest pitch of the series, another entertaining battle is on the cards.

When: January 24-28, 10:00 local time; 13:30 IST

Where: Wanderers, Johannesburg

What to expect: After the surprisingly dry surface at Centurion, the series will return to classic South African conditions. The Wanderers rarely gets it wrong as far as their pitches are concerned, and groundsman Bethuel Buthelezi has maintained a carpet of green in the lead-up to the Test that will allow him to leave the exact covering of grass that he deems appropriate. There will certainly be pace, bounce and carry, and a thorough contest between bat and ball. With some rain forecast for each day of the Test (although less on the opening two days) we may have some delays, but the drainage at the Wanderers is excellent.

Team News:

South Africa

How many fast bowlers is too many? That's the question South Africa will be pondering as they pick their side at a venue where they have not played a spinner in the past two Tests. Keshav Maharaj will almost certainly be left out again, but should the Proteas bulk up the batting with Theunis de Bruyn or pick another seaming all-rounder in Andile Phehlukwayo? Chris Morris is on paternity leave as he awaits the birth of his first child. The fact that South Africa considered five seamers for Centurion suggests that they might well go the Phehlukwayo route for the third Test.

Probable XI: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Vernon Philander, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel, Lungi Ngidi.


India have been unpredictable in their selection thus far, so probably the only safe thing to predict is more changes. Ironically they might end up with the side that most expected them to start the series with - Ajinkya Rahane will surely get a game, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar should return. The final decision would then relate to whether Rohit Sharma or Ravichandran Ashwin is likelier to be an asset.

Probable XI: Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Parthiv Patel (wk), Hardik Pandya, Rohit Sharma/Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami.

Did you know?

- The Wanderers may be seen as the most quintessentially South African ground, but India have never lost a Test here. One of their two victories in South Africa came here, and their other three Tests at the venue were drawn.

- Vernon Philander will play his 50th Test for South Africa, and the landmark comes at one of his more successful grounds - he has taken 21 wickets in four Tests at the Wanderers at an average of 18.33.

- The game moves quickly at the Wanderers. In the last four Tests at the ground, runs have been scored at 3.25 per over, while wickets have fallen on average every 28 runs.

What they said:

"You have to put the ego aside, we all want to be the hero at the end of the day. We all want to put up our hand to be Man of the Match but not every surface is going to allow that. It is about being mature enough to understand that your end might not be the one to strike from and to play your role accordingly to make sure the other bowlers get the best conditions to strike." - Vernon Philander talks about being part of a four-man pace attack.

"Definitely the things that worked for us last time, we'll focus on that. Although there is more grass on the wicket this time, but you know the pace and bounce will probably be similar to what it was in 2013. Their bowling attack is slightly different but (Morne) Morkel and Philander are playing which was the case last time also. Look, we have to take the positives from that Test, what worked for us, what other things we have to repeat again to be able to perform at this game or this venue." - Virat Kohli takes strength from India's performance at the Wanderers in 2013.

Live Home Series
Player Schedule
Points Table Cricket Rankings
CT 2017 CCDT 2017
India Tour of Sri lanka Apps Download