After completing a thrilling win in the first Test in Mohali, Team India will look to double their lead in the four-match series when they take on the Proteas at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Saturday.
The Bengaluru stadium has produced result oriented wickets in the past. When India last played here, they won by 5 wickets against New Zealand. But that was three years ago — in August 2012 — which is a long time in international cricket.
The biggest issue for India against South Africa still remains to be the bowling combination.
India played three spinners in Mohali which paid rich dividends for Virat Kohli and Co. But overcast conditions in Bengaluru for last three days raise one question: will he play Ravi Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra at Chinnaswamy?
Ashwin and Jadeja look set to feature in playing eleven, given they shared 80% of the South Africa wickets that fell in Mohali.
With the spin department sorted, the team management might have a difficult time picking up the pace combination.
Ishant Sharma is all to set to make a comeback after serving his one-match ban he received from ICC and will lead the bowling attack for India. Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron and Bhuvneshwar Kumar will be fighting for the remaining spots for pacers.
If India play three pacers, then Umesh shouldn’t be bothered about his place but if India opt for only two, then it will be a toss between Aaron and him. If the captain assesses the conditions to be seam friendly, don’t be surprised to see Bhuvneshwar getting a look in.
As the PTI reported on Thursday, Umesh Yadav didn’t bowl in the initial parts of the practice session and was seen only during the fielding drills. On the other hand, Ishant and Aaron put in the hard yards in the nets.
In batting department, the middle order looks set with Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane at number three, four and five respectively. If Rohit Sharma is picked based on his hundred for Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy game against UP, we can see a change in the batting order.
The major concern still remains to be the opening combination. While Murali Vijay is a certainty, Shikhar Dhawan is in serious trouble. The only thing in his favour is that the last time he played here (for India ‘A’ against Bangladesh ‘A’), he scored a 150.
What opening combination India prefer remains to be seen but to beat the number one Test side in the world, the hosts need a stable one.
In the second Test, India will not only face the challenge of South Africa pacers but also a challenge to pick the best playing XI.