South Africa vs India 2018: Kepler Wessels heaps praise on India's 'formidable' pace attack
What's the story?
Former South African skipper Kepler Wessels has lauded India's much improved pace attack operating in the ongoing 3-match Test series. Alluding to their marked progress from the previous tour of the Rainbow Nation in 2013, the 60-year old opined that the visitors' bowling attack has become much more formidable now.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Wessels affirmed, "(India's USP is) a improved pace attack. India's batting has always been good, but this crop of pacemen give it a different look."
Impressed by India's batting strength too, he added, "The top-order is now proficient to take on the challenges of conditions in, say, South Africa. The core group of batsmen is technically sound and that makes a difference. India's performance in the Wanderers Test, in 2013/14, was for me a turning point. Conditions weren't easy for batting, yet they fought hard and well. Then, India's pace attack is formidable now. That alone makes a huge difference."
In the past...
During their 2013 tour of South Africa, India fielded three seamers in Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami for the two Tests in Johannesburg and Durban. The tourists drew the first Test before succumbing to a ten-wicket loss in the subsequent match at Kingsmead.
The heart of the matter
From the 2013 Durban Test lineup, only Shami has found a place in India's bowling attack for the ongoing opening match in Cape Town. While Zaheer has since retired, Ishant has been left out of the playing eleven to accommodate debutant Jasprit Bumrah.
On a surface quite conducive for fast bowlers of all variety, Bhuvneshwar Kumar's probing spell stood out during the first innings. His four-wicket haul went a long way in helping India restrict South Africa to 286.
After cutting the hosts' lead to 77 with a crucial 95-ball 93, Hardik Pandya rode on the newfound momentum and removed Aiden Markram as well as Dean Elgar in South Africa's second innings.
With persistent rain washing out the entire third day's play at Newlands Cricket Ground, it remains to be seen how the match progresses in the next couple of days. As things stand at the moment, South Africa lead by 142 runs with eight wickets remaining at their disposal.
Although the presence of Zaheer Khan added experience to their bowling unit in the 2013 series against South Africa, India's current pace attack is certainly a lot more potent. Apart from Bhuvneshwar, Shami, Pandya and Bumrah, the likes of Umesh Yadav and Ishant also provide depth to the squad.