It will be battle for the test supremacy as India
and South Africa
will take on each other in the first test match starting at VCA Stadium, Nagpur
. Indian team who currently hold the number one test ranking with 125 points will play to maintain the number one ranking and South Africa
will play to snatch the ranking which was lost in September 2009.
will have bigger challenge than the South Africans as they will play the test series without some of their key performers like Dravid, Yuvraj and Sreesanth. On the other hand South Africa
will play with new selection panel and team managements.
Dhoni whose record as a captain in test cricket is outstanding since India had never lost a single game under his captaincy, so far he has captained India in 11 matches and India came out as winner on 8 occasions while on three occasions game ended as draw. Having said that, it will be tough series for him to maintain the same consistency which he was able to achieve in the last year or so.
M.S.Dhoni batting while captaining the side is also outstanding. In eleven matches he has scored 843 runs with an average of more than 73 which is far better than his career average. Because of introduction of some new faces in Indian middle order the key to Indian fortunes will be how M.S.Dhoni plays in this series.
Both teams have reason to believe they can occupy the spot vacated by Australia. As they will get ample opportunity to play against each other in upcoming two years and if any one of the team able to maintain the consistency then they can hold the ranking for a very long time to come.
India are new to the concept of dominating in Test cricket. But with four consecutive victories behind them they can truly believe that they can wrap up the series with some tough competition from South Africa.
The series victory for India or a draw will not only help them to extend their top ranking lead but also entitle them to $175,000 and the coveted ICC Test Championship mace.
South Africa, on the other hand, have landed here with their confidence sky high following a series-leveling victory over England in Johannesburg and they will be not satisfied if they can’t get the results in their favor at the end of the series.
Watch out for
Gautam Gambhir and Virendra Sehwag: Both are in good form with the bat since last one and half years and they will be glad if they will put a similar performance once again in a series which could decide whether India deserve to be number one or not. Sehwag and Gambhir when on song makes very hard for the opposition team captain to control the game flow.
Styen and Morkel: After return Morne Morkel has done remarkably well with the ball in the recently concluded home series against England and his partner Styen is really outstanding. It will be interesting to see how they tackle the two deadly opening pair of India.
Pitch & Condition
The pitch at VCA Stadium, Nagpur will be drier and will help reverse swing for the fast bowlers with the old ball. As the game progresses it will also help spinners to get turn and bounce. So team winning the toss would love to bat first and put huge first inning runs on the board. The weather will play an important role in first test as rain is expected in next few days.
S.Badrinath is almost certain to make his test debut for India in place of injured Yuvraj Singh and he is likely to bat at number six while the opener M.Vijay is ready to take role of The Wall Rahul Dravid at number three spots. There is also a doubt over Laxman fitness because of left thumb injury and if he is declared unfit then we can see the second debutant for India as Rohit Sharma. In bowling department Zaheer, Ishanr and Harbhajan is almost certain to play but for the second spinner slot there will be fight between Mishra and Ojha.
South Africa on the other hand looks settled in their batting department and in bowling department they are likely to go into the game with their strength which is fast bowling, so Styen, Morkel and Parnell will lead the bowling attack along with spinner Paul Harris.
Likely Playing XI for both Teams (Match is Schedule to begin at 09:30 AM India Time)
India Squad: V.Sehwag, G.Gambhir, M.Vijay, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S Laxman, S.BadriNath, M.S.Dhoni (Captain & WK), H.Singh, A.Mishra, Z.Khan, Ishant Sharma.
South Africa Squad: Graeme Smith (Captain), Ashwell Prince, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Mark Boucher (WK), Paul Harris, Wayne Parnell, 10 Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel.
Stats & Trivia
Mark Boucher needs another nine dismissal to become the first wicketkeeper to be involved in 500 dismissals.
After Yuvraj Singh, no batsman made debut in the middle order for India since 2003 and S.Badrinath will be first to do so after long gap of seven years.
The deadly opening pair Sehwag and Gambhir needs another 233 runs aggregate opening partnership to become India's most prolific opening partners. At presently they have added 2778 runs and Gavaskar and Chauhan hold the record with 3011 runs.