India vs South Africa 2019, 2nd Test: Preview, match details, probable playing XI, pitch report, weather forecast, key stats
India were unarguably hot favorites leading into the first Test against South Africa in Vizag, and the hosts proved the fact with a comprehensive 203-run victory. While the deadly spin-twins operated magnificently in tandem and Mohammed Shami reinforced his moniker as the 'second-innings specialist', Rohit Sharma stole the limelight as he clobbered the Proteas with twin tons on opening debut in the longest version of the game.
In hindsight, Faf du Plessis and Co will take heart from their valiant batting performance in the series opener. Contrary to expectations, South Africa batted with remarkable grit to notch up 431 runs in response to India's massive first innings total of 502.
The lackluster bowling was taken to the cleaners right from the outset, not allowing the visitors any opportunity to wrestle back the advantage. Du Plessis has already hinted towards changes in the playing XI to optimize the team balance as the cricketing bandwagon moves to Pune.
Burdened with the responsibility to deliver in friendly conditions, left-arm tweaker Keshav Maharaja was rendered ineffective while Senuran Muthusamy and Dane Piedt could manage just one wicket apiece in both innings combined.
Erring with their discipline, the spin trio gifted the Indian batsmen with loose ones aplenty to capitalize on throughout. Better execution from the spinners will be the key if the Proteas are to stand any chance against a dynamic Indian outfit.
South Africa also missed a trick by fielding only two seamers on a pitch that had some demons of variable bounce. Having toiled rather fruitlessly in Vizag, pace spearhead Kagiso Rabada needs to fire on all cylinders and set the tone upfront for the guest nation.
Date: 10-14 October 2019
Time: 9:30 AM IST
Venue: Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune
The only Test played here, between India and Australia back in February 2017, lasted only three days and saw 31 wickets falling to the spinners as ICC rated the surface 'poor'.
Nevertheless, curator Pandurang Salgaonkar is optimistic about preparing a true wicket for the upcoming fixture.
Intermittent showers, gentle breeze and moisture should assist the quicks. The batsmen may endure a tumultuous period at the crease as the bounce is expected to be unsuitable for stroke-play.
Sporadic rainfall has been forecast on all five days. The sand-based outfield promoting efficient drainage will come in handy.
Daytime temperatures are expected to be around 31°C and could plunge to around 21°C at night, with the humidity expected to be around 78%. Bad light might hamper play in the evening sessions.
Likely team combinations
Rohit Sharma and Mayank Agarwal have cemented their position in the opening slot and will accompany each other to face the new ball. India are expected to feature the exact same playing XI unless the conditions force an alteration.
Probable playing XI: Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agrawal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami.
Dropping a spinner to make room for Lungi Ngidi seems a viable option for the Proteas. Considering the relentless efforts of swashbuckling batsman Heinrich Klassen, either of Theunis de Bruyn or Temba Bavuma might have to warm the bench.
Probable Playing XI: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Faf du Plessis (captain), Temba Bavuma (vice-captain), Quinton de Kock, Theunis de Bruyn / Heinrich Klassen, Keshav Maharaj, Dane Piedt, Lungi Ngidi, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada.
In 37 matches against each other, the Proteas have won 15 Tests. India meanwhile have emerged victorious on 12 occasions, while 10 games have ended in a stalemate.