Faf Du Plessis-skippered South Africa would lock horns with Virat Kohli-led India in a 3-match Test series with the series opener beginning at Vishakhapatnam from October 2nd. The Test series against India would also mark the beginning of South Africa’s campaign in the ICC World Test Championships.
The Proteas would look to make amends to their dismal performance on their last tour to India in 2015, where they were trounced 3-0 in a 4-match series. With the retirements of AB De Villiers, Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn, the visitors have a new look side with a couple of promising youngsters making their way into the test line-up.
While South Africans would look towards their experienced campaigners in skipper Faf Du Plessis, Quinton De Kock, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada to lead from the front, it would be a wonderful opportunity for the likes of Aiden Markram, Lungi Ngidi and Keshav Maharaj to make a mark for themselves against a formidable Indian team which has been simply been unconquerable on home soil over the last 4 odd seasons.
South Africa would need their batsman to step up their game against a potent Indian bowling attack which boasts of both world class spinners and a lethal pace battery. Playing world class spinners in Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja on rank turners would determine who the series pans out for the visitors.
So here is a look at the top five players to watch out for in the Test series against India
Aiden Markram (Opener)
Aiden Markram has been dependable opener in red ball cricket for the Proteas over the past few seasons. Markram has been in fine form getting into the series scoring successive tons in both the practice games, against India A and the Boards President's XI.
The right handed opener along with his opening partner Dean Elgar would need to provide stability up the order and give his side a platform to build upon. The strokemaker has proven his worth as a Test opener scoring runs over 1300 runs with 4 tons at a healthy average of 43.80. However, he needs to improve upon his track poor record against India as he was pretty up and down in the last series in 2018, amassing just 140 runs in 3 Tests.
Faf Du Plessis (Middle Order Batsman)
In what seems like a relatively unexperienced middle order, the experienced Faf Du Plessis holds key to anchoring the innings and steading the ship for the Proteas in the middle. Over the last 3 seasons, the South African skipper has been pretty consistent with the bat and needs to keep that form going against a quality Indian bowling lineup.
Du Plessis would be looking to improve upon his rather poor Test record against India which reads out as 440 runs in 16 innings at a below-par 27 average. Du Plessis' captaincy shall also be tested as he leads an in-transition team against a much more experienced and balanced Indian side on their home turf.
Quinton De Kock (Wicket-keeper Batsman)
Quinton De Kock will instrumental in providing depth to the batting lower down the order. If the top order fails to accumulate the runs against a potent Indian bowling attack, the lefthander would need to take the added responsibility of hanging on with the middle order and batting with the tail.
While De Kock seems to be at ease against the pacers, he needs to overcome his weakness against playing quality spin, an area which has plagued his batting for quite some time now. With South Africa having two frontline spinners in Keshav Maharaj and Dane Piedt in their bowling armoury, De Kock’s wicket keeping skills shall also be tested on the turning tracks.
Kagiso Rabada (Right Arm Fast Bowler)
Kagiso Rabada would be the leader of the South African seam attack. After the retirement of the legendary Dale Steyn, Rabada is untasked with spearheading the Proteas pace attack which boasts of seasoned campaigner Vernon Philander and exciting young seamer Lungi Ngidi.
The tearaway seamer has the speed and skill to produce match winning spells and his team would look forward for him to make the initial breakthroughs against a relatively unsettled Indian opening pair.The tall and lanky seamer has been South Africa's pace spearhead scalping 176 wickets in just 37 Tests at an astounding average of 21.77.
Rabada who did not have the best of outings in his last tour to India, would have to take a leaf out of Dale Steyn's terrific bowling record in India, which saw the pace ace produce match winning spells on docile tracks .
Keshav Maharaj (Spinner)
Spinners always have a huge role to play in Tests matches on the slow and turning pitches in the sub-continent. In a predominately seam attack, Maharaj has been South Africa's spin king taking 94 wickets in 25 Tests for his nation. The tweaker's exploits have gone rather unnoticed amid the bowling heroics of Steyn, Mornel and Rabada in the Test arena.
Maharaj had an excellent outing with the ball during South Africa's 2-match Test series in Sri Lanka, where he picked up a bagful of wickets. The spinner would relish the opportunity of showcasing his craft on the spin friendly tracks at Visakhapatnam and Pune and would look to give the Indians a taste of their own medicine. More importantly, he would leading the spin attack which also includes off-spinner Dane Piedt.