There are no dead rubbers in Test cricket anymore as teams have their eyes set on the World Test Championships table. An out-of-form South Africa are looking to turn things around as they face table-toppers India in the third Test of the series at JSCA International Stadium Complex, Ranchi. If the Faf du Plessis-led side manages to pull off a win in the third Test, it will be more than a consolation win as they will open their account in World Test Championships with 40 points.
South Africa face several problems going into the match and may look to make some changes as they face a rampaging India who have outclassed them in every department of the game so far.
Who will open?
With Aiden Markram ruled out due to a wrist injury, South Africa have an opener’s slot to fill. Zubayr Hamza may get to play his career’s second Test as promoting a struggling Theunis de Bruyn up the order may not be a viable option. Hamza registered scores of 13 and 14 in two innings he played against India A.
Du Plessis promoted himself up the order in the second innings of the second Test. Being the most experienced Test campaigner in the team, the skipper may look to bat up the order to limit the damage if India’s fast bowlers get early wickets. George Linde may make his Test debut replacing De Bruyn who has a batting average of 18.95 in 11 Tests.
Time to unleash Lungi Ngidi?
Fast bowler Lungi Ngidi has not played a single Test in the series while Anrich Nortje remained wicketless in his debut Test. Ngidi is expected to replace Nortje in the playing XI for the Ranchi Test given the 23-year-old was exceptional against India in the home series in 2018, even taking a five-wicket haul.
India, on the other hand, will look to capitalise on the momentum and take their points tally to 240. However, they may make one change in the playing XI. Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav took centrestage in India’s practice session before the Ranchi Test and may replace a fast bowler in the side. However, Kuldeep is now out of the equation due to a shoulder injury and left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem has been drafted into the squad.
The Virat Kohli-led side have not had much of a problem with their batting. The openers Mayank Agarwal and new Test opener Rohit Sharma have been successful so far. The middle-order has contributed when required and Kohli showed his true colours with a career-best 254 in the second Test. Cheteshwar Pujara is yet to register a three-digit score in the series, a feat he rarely misses in a home series.