After a winning finish to the T20I series which they drew 1-1, South Africa now face an uphill task against the top-ranked Test team in a three-match series, which begins in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday, 2 October.
India v South Africa, 1st Test
ACA-VDCA Stadium, Visakhapatnam
Wednesday, 2 October, 9:30am local, 4:00am GMT
South Africa had a series to forget when they last toured India in 2015, losing three of the four games, and were precariously placed in the rain-affected drawn Test in Bangalore. Come 2019, things appear even more difficult as they lack a bit on the experience front, with Dale Steyn and Hashim Amla calling it quits last month. However, the visitors will be inspired by Aiden Markram, who scored a fluent century in the practice game against Board President's XI, and will be one of their key players in the series.
While skipper Faf Du Plessis and Dean Elgar will be eager to make an early statement with the bat, the bowling unit seems well-rounded with the return of pacemen Vernon Philander and Lungi Ngidi, and left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj.
India consolidated their position as the No.1 side in the MRF Tyres ICC Test Team Rankings with a 2-0 series whitewash in West Indies, which also earned them their first points in the ICC World Test Championship. Their record at home is even more enviable, as they've won each of their ten series since 2012-13 – the joint highest for most consecutive series wins on home soil. This series also presents a great opportunity for Rohit Sharma to revive his Test career, who is almost certain to partner Mayank Agarwal at the top.
🇮🇳 and 🇿🇦 begin their Test series on Wednesday.— ICC (@ICC) September 28, 2019
When the sides last played five-day cricket, South Africa came out on top with a 2-1 series victory. Will India turn the tables?#INDvSA pic.twitter.com/8OXFEi00Qa
Remember the last time
A collective bowling performance, led by Mohammed Shami's five-wicket haul in the fourth-innings helped India clinch a 63-run win in a low scoring third Test in Johannesburg, after South Africa had already sealed the 2017-18 series, winning the first two games. When the teams last met in India, Ajinkya Rahane scored centuries in each innings of the fourth Test in Delhi, before Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja combined to end the visitors' 143.1 overs long resistance on the final day, to complete a 337-run win.
What they said:
Ajinkya Rahane, India vice-captain: “It is important to start with a win because of the Test Championship points. You cannot take any team lightly. It is important to respect your opponents. As we know the conditions we need to focus on our strength."
Vernon Philander, South Africa bowler: "The Test championship brings in a new dimension. It is a new sort of excitement for players. Also knowing that you will be playing against top teams more often [is great]. It’s a tough start…playing India in India but I don’t think the South Africans would have wanted it any other way… take the big dogs in their home ground. All of us are looking forward to this challenge and there are a lot of player-to-player challenges as well. Can’t wait to get going."
It's expected to be sunny day with a gentle breeze and temperatures hovering around 30-33℃. In the only Test played previously at this venue, spinners shared 25 of the 40 wickets between them, eight in the final innings, to set up a 246-run win for the hosts against England in 2016.
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