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World Test Championship

Dominant India seek to extend lead at top of World Test Championship table

Ind v SA, 3rd Test, preview

South Africa are yet to pick up their first points in the competition, but will need a massive change to their approach and execution to change that in Ranchi

Overview

India v South Africa, 3rd Test
JSCA International Stadium Complex, Ranchi
Saturday, 20 October; 09:30am local time, 04:00am GMT

Having picked up their 11th successive home series win – a new world record – Virat Kohli’s India continue to scale down new heights in cricket’s longest format, where they have long maintained their ascendancy.

Since Kohli took over as full-time captain, India’s win/loss ratio of 3.555 is by far the highest, with New Zealand coming in at a distant second, with a corresponding number of 1.583, among those teams to have played more than 10 matches in this period. Little about India or South Africa’s performance this series suggests that things will pan out differently in Ranchi.

For South Africa, the problems are deep-rooted. They have failed to come to terms with the retirements of stalwarts such as Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn and AB de Villiers. It has left them prone to top-order capitulations, as a result of which they are left to play catch-up from very early on in the game. The gulf between the two sides' batting has now been widened by the absence of Aiden Markram, who has been ruled out of the Ranchi Test after fracturing his right wrist.

While their spinners were already lacking the incision and discipline to trouble India’s batsmen, perhaps more worryingly for South Africa, their pace attack flagged in helpful conditions in Pune. Not often has it been the case that an Asian team’s fast bowlers have outperformed those of South Africa, but that has held true in this series, as India's fast bowlers exploited the bounce, movement and carry on offer in Pune much better to reap the rewards. And all this despite Jasprit Bumrah not having played a game.

India have already extended their gap at the top of the ICC World Test Championship table to 140 points. Another victory here would take them up a further 40 points and truly establish their supremacy, in keeping with their No.1 position on the MRF Tyres ICC Test Team Rankings.

Remember the last time

Mayank Agarwal’s second successive century and Virat Kohli’s career-best 254* took India to a colossal 601/5 declared. Their bowlers then got down to business, dismissing South Africa for 275, delayed only by a ninth-wicket partnership of 109 between Keshav Maharaj and Vernon Philander. Having secured a 326-run lead, India enforced the follow-on and sent South Africa packing for 189. R Ashwin and Umesh Yadav, in his comeback Test, finished with six wickets in the match each, while Ravindra Jadeja wrapped up with four scalps, in addition to his 91 with the bat.

Ravindra Jadeja was excellent with bat and ball in Pune
Ravindra Jadeja was excellent with bat and ball in Pune

What they said

Virat Kohli, India captain: “It's [11 successive home series wins] been nice, but looking at the larger picture, the Test Championship, every game has even more value. We're not going to take the foot off the gas in the third Test, we're looking for a result again, and hopefully, make it 3-0.” 

Faf du Plessis, South Africa captain: "You have to be on top of your best game. If you are not, you are going to be found wanting and we were found wanting in this Test match."

Conditions

A cloudy day is expected in Ranchi, with brief spells of sunshine, and some showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon. Rain could, in fact, have a big say on all days of the Test. In the only Test that this stadium has hosted, Cheteshwar Pujara batted for over 11 hours to ground Australia into the dust with a double-century, in a drawn affair in the 2016-17 Border Gavaskar Trophy.

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