Date: Wednesday, 24 January – Sunday, 28 January
Time: 10:30 (SAST)
Venue: The Wanderers, Johannesburg.
Live Stream & TV: SABC 3, SuperSport 2 (South Africa), Sony Ten 1 & Sony Ten 3 (India), Sky Sports Main Event (UK).
The third and final Test between South Africa and India takes place on Wednesday at The Wanderers in Johannesburg.
The home side go into this one with an unassailable 2-0 lead following impressive wins at Newlands and Centurion, helped along by some good bowling with Vernon Philander and Lungi Ngidi providing man of the match performances in those respective Tests.
Both sides are yet to bat to their potential, with the visiting skipper Virat Kohli the only batsman to pass the three figure mark so far in the series but his impressive 153 in the first innings of the second Test was not enough to avoid a series defeat.
AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla and Aiden Markram have come close to registering centuries but the home side’s apparent inability to convert good starts should be a cause for concern.
More worrying is the form of wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock who is yet to make an impact in this series. Usually quite assured and aggressive, his slim returns have left the lower order quite bare and, with Philander coming in at seven, South Africa’s tail looks a bit on the long side.
South Africa are unlikely to make a change to the XI that took the field at Supersport Park and will probably stick to the same four-man pace attack that did the job.
However, should they see the need to address their batting fragilities in this dead rubber, Knights captain Theunis de Bruyn could find himself taking guard in the middle order with spinner Keshav Maharaj making way.
With pace pretty much the Proteas method of attack in this series, Maharaj has so far been used rather sparingly and, should the need for a bit of variety arise in Joburg, either one of the opening pair of Dean Elgar and Markram could be called upon to provide the spin option.
Much of the criticism thrown in Kohli’s direction has had something to do with team selection and, with the series pretty much gone, he could call upon his vice captain Ajinkya Rahane who was left out of the previous two matches.
India could also see themselves fielding a third different wicketkeeper in three matches after Parthiv Patel failed to impress with both bat and glove at Centurion. Dinesh Karthik was called upon to replace the injured Wriddiman Saha who donned the gloves in the first Test at Newlands and could be entrusted with that duty in the final Test.
Head to head
Here’s a fun fact…
For all of India’s much-documented struggles outside of the subcontinent plus all of the Wanderers’ billing as the archetypal pacy, bouncy South African wicket in which the visitors are pretty much hapless on – they have never lost a Test there.
The last encounter there produced a thriller thanks to Centuries from Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli setting South Africa a mammoth 458 to win in the second innings.
The home side gave the target a solid go with AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis emulating the Indian duo with tons of their own but a mini collapse with victory in sight meant the home side had to hold their brakes a bit as they settled for a draw.
Groundsman Bethuel Buthelezi has been talking up the surface he prepared in the lead up to Wednesday, saying the home side will delight in it. Plenty of pace and bounce is expected with some sideways movement – a combination the Indians might not be too thrilled to face up to.