India and South Africa will enter the New Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg for the third and final Test match of the Freedom Series tomorrow. The series has already gone to South Africa, who won the first two Tests at Cape Town and Centurion.
Team India was let down by its batting, who couldn’t continue and built on the good work done by the Indian bowlers. The bowlers picked up 20 wickets in both the Tests, but the batsmen failed to chase down the totals in fourth innings.
There were some bizarre selection decisions made by captain Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri, as they left out India’s best batsman with the overseas record, Ajinkya Rahane out of both the first two Tests. Then they dropped the best bowler for India in the first Test, Bhuvneshwar Kumar; for the second Test, citing that he will not get any help from conditions and pitch in Centurion and went with Ishant Sharma.
Playing Rohit Sharma in place of Ajinkya Rahane based on his current form of a century, a couple of fifties and scores in limited overs, all coming against Sri Lanka at home; proved that Virat Kohli can make wrong decisions. Rohit Sharma didn’t do himself any good by scoring 78 runs in 4 innings, which includes a score of 47, in the second innings of the second Test, when the match was done and dusted.
Also making his return to the team will be wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik, who will be playing his first Test after 8 years for India. He is someone who has opened for India previously and is a better batsman than both Parthiv and Saha; but again, his keeping skills have always fallen short of being perfect.
Though the curator and former Proteas players have cautioned India that the pitch at Johannesburg will have bounce and pace, India might go in for their in-form bowler in Bhuvneshwar Kumar in place of Ishant Sharma. Bhuvneshwar has added a couple of kms to his speed and has developed a good short ball.
India needs to play out of their skins in order to win the final Test and save some pride. A clean sweep of 3-0 will not look good on the resume of world’s no.1 team and captaincy of Virat Kohli will be questioned after his mannerisms in recent press conferences have been too defensive.
The 3rd and final Test begins at New Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg on January 24, 2018.
COC Predicted India XI:
M Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Dinesh Karthik (WK), R Ashwin, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami