Your essential guide to the third Test between South Africa and India at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.
The Proteas’ goal is clear – to claim a 3-0 series whitewash that will see them move level with India on 118 Test ranking points (India, though, would stay No 1 on decimal point calculation).
India’s record at the Wanderers is decent, considering they have never won a series in South Africa. The visitors have played four Tests here, winning one (2006) and drawing three.
Expect a fierce battle between two seam attacks on a pitch conducive to pace and bounce, and a tricky Test for batsmen who are aiming to prove themselves after two low-scoring matches.
Du Plessis criticised the slow pitch at Centurion, which looked more like one from the subcontinent than South Africa. The Wanderers’ ground staff should avoid similar criticism, having prepared a bouncy track, according to curator Bethuel Buthelezi.
The weather conditions will also play a huge role, with showers expected throughout the five days.
Players to Watch:
All eyes will be on Quinton de Kock. The Proteas’ wicketkeeper-batsman has been out of form and will need to step up and score big at the Wanderers to end a slump of 12 innings without a half-century.
Cheteshwar Pujara averages 51.09 in Test cricket, but has scored just 49 runs in four innings in this series, with a highest score of 26 in Cape Town. His performance will determine if India make a good start to their innings on a wicket that will favour the bowlers.
India – 1. Shikhar Dhawan, 2. Murali Vijay, 3. Cheteshwar Pujara, 4. Virat Kohli (c), 5. Rohit Sharma, 6. Ravichandran Ashwin 7. Hardik Pandya, 8. Wriddhiman Saha, 9. Mohammed Shami 10. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 11. Ishant Sharma.
Du Plessis, when asked about Aiden Markram’s fitness, merely replied: ‘He’s ready’. The opening batsman will play after picking up a mid-left quadricep strain during the second Test.
South Africa – 1. Dean Elgar, 2. Aiden Markram, 3. Hashim Amla, 4. Faf du Plessis, 5. AB de Villiers, 6. Quinton de Kock, 7. Vernon Philander, 8. Kagiso Rabada, 9. Keshav Maharaj, 10. Morne Morkel 11. Lungi Ngidi
– Highest score by a South African at the Wanderers: Jacques Kallis with 186 against New Zealand in 2007. South Africa won by 358 runs.
– Highest score by an India batsman: 153 by Pujara in 2013, in a match which ended in a draw.
– Best match figures of 11-60 at the Wanderers after readmission was set by Dale Steyn.
– Best match figures by an India bowler was set by Shanthakumaran Sreesanth (8-99).
– Hashim Amla is one catch short of becoming the fourth South African to have 100 catches as a fielder. Others to have achieved this feat: Kallis, Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers.
Du Plessis: ‘India will come back with a point to prove. They are a proud team that wouldn’t want to go down 3-0. So we are expecting a good challenge from them.’
Virat Kohli: ‘As a team, we are looking to correct all the mistakes that have happened. The Wanderers has been a special venue for us. Hopefully, we can play the same kind of cricket.’
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images