India’s quest for final frontier resumes on Tuesday at Cape Town when they meet South Africa for the third Test match with the series tantalisingly poised at 1-1 after two Tests.
India won the first Test convincingly at Centurion where they had never won before and South Africa bounced back well to beat India and square the series in the second Test at Wanderers where they defeated India for the first time. It now boils down to the final Test at a venue where India has never beaten South Africa but this team under Virat Kohli has shown in the past that they are up for challenges and overcome it.
After missing the second Test match with back spasms, Kohli would be raring to achieve the feat of winning a series in South Africa for the first time after the drama with the selectors, which had unfolded before the start of the series. Even though Kohli has not scored a Test century for two years and his average is below 30 since the beginning of 2020, the skipper’s live-wire presence on the field brings out the best from his team.
Hanuman Vihari, who had replaced the skipper, had done a decent job in the second Test scoring 60 runs while being dismissed only once. But still he might have to miss out the Test as both Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane did show some form in the second innings, scoring half centuries and also putting on an important partnership of 111 runs.
Kohli said at the pre-match press conference that the experience of both his senior players is priceless and in overseas conditions they have proved in the past and he is confident that the duo will step up with impact performances. They played that crucial knocks in crucial situations, in crucial scenarios and that has lot of value for him.
India will be forced to make a change for the injured Mohammed Siraj and my gut feeling is that it might be Ishant Sharma, who might get the nod ahead of Umesh Yadav, who had a decent series in South Africa in 2018.
Nothing succeeds like success and winning the first Test series in South Africa will be Kohli’s final frontier in the games highest format where he has been the leader of the pack for the No 1 team in world cricket for the last five years.