IND vs SA 2021: 3 reasons why Duanne Olivier will be a threat to India 

South Africa's Duanne Olivier (PC: ICC)
South Africa's Duanne Olivier (PC: ICC)
Rudransh Khurana

Duanne Olivier has the best strike rate recorded by a fast bowler after at least 10 innings in the history of Test cricket. After 20 essays across 10 Tests, Olivier has 48 wickets, one in every 30 balls at an average of 19.25.

Three years after choosing a Kolpak deal over a national contract, the right-arm quick is back in the Proteas colors. Now with Anrich Nortje also ruled out of India's entire tour of South Africa, Olivier is all set to make a bumper comeback.

Below we discuss three reasons why there's a buzz around his return and how he can crush Virat Kohli's hopes of helping India win their first Test series in South Africa.

#3 Duanne Olivier's red-hot form and a booming track record

#4DaySeries@LionsCricketSA seamer Duanne Olivier ends the year as the competition's leading wicket-taker 💪 #BePartOfIt

Three of India's likely four fast bowlers who will play on Boxing Day haven't had a taste of red-ball cricket in months. Olivier, meanwhile, is in sizzling form.

In the domestic four-day franchise's 2021-22 season, Olivier was the top wicket-taker with 28 scalps after just four matches. He averaged 11.14 in these, striking at a brilliant 23.1, picking two five-fors and recording the best match figures of 9/95.

With these, he also went past 500 first-class wickets at a jaw-dropping overall average of 22.8. If form means anything at all in today's international cricket, Olivier is bringing a truckload of it to Centurion and India will need to be careful.

#2 The unfamiliarity factor

One of the reasons why Olivier was touted as the next big thing in international cricket was his Player of the Series performance against Pakistan at home. In that series, he made every second Pakistani batter hop to his crease, edge it behind via the shoulder of his bat, or bowled him by making him play back to a full ball.

Olivier has pace and bounce, and while his county stint might not have been entirely triumphant, he has polished his skills of using swing and seam to good measure. Add to that his ability to bowl long spells and that's what a complete fast-bowling package looks like, and not just for South African conditions.

The problem for India is that they have never faced him before. They'll have a pile of videotapes to watch, but an HD TV screen never comes close to grass and leather. Olivier will be unfamiliar and, at least for the first few innings, he will have the chance to use this to his advantage. In a short series, that would be enough.

#1 Rohit Sharma's absence and India's struggling middle order

🦁 Can’t wait to see Duanne Olivier back on the Test scene! ⚡️#ThePrideOfJozi #LionsCricket

While many observers are rightly terming this tour as India's best chance in South Africa, a good part of it comes from the hosts' internal and external struggles.

Despite being the most dominant traveling side in the last few years, India have arrived in the Proteas' land with glaring problems of their own, especially in the batting department. Rohit Sharma's absence at the top is as big a blow as Nortje's injury and it might expose India's middle order nastily at the wrong time.

Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara are struggling for big scores and guys like Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant are untested in what is considered the toughest conditions for batting. With Olivier's versatility and ability to take wickets in quick succession, he could be Dean Elgar's best man to hit India where it hurts.

Moreover, the current lot of Indian batters have struggled against tall bowlers. From Kyle Jamieson to Ollie Robinson - awkward bounce has often caught Indians off-guard in important games.

From KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal to Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj - anyone with a bat in hand will be probed by an Olivier bouncer, out-swinger, or a reverse-swinging yorker. It won't be a stretch to say that this tour will be the Indian batters' biggest test since 2018 and Olivier will be at the forefront of it.

Edited by Samya Majumdar
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