The series is vital to Cricket South Africa because a successful and in today’s world even full series means you have to remain financially solvent to live and fight for another year.
It’s a huge clash for India because the team has never won a series here. This team under Virat Kohli accepts the unknown and challenges without fear or hesitation and likes to write history. To do this, the first would be to start off well.
Historically, India has been a slow starter, and that was in the days when you had two, sometimes even three, warm-up matches against local opponents before the first Test took place. There were only center wicket exercises within the group, net sessions and fitness work. In a sense, this is cricket in times of Covid-19, life in a bio-bubble and also something like a vacuum. When the Centurion Test begins, there will be no crowds in the SuperSport Park.
This is a charming stadium where the spectators usually play a big role as they are close to the action and there are grass banks around the stadium which create an intimate atmosphere.
All of that will be missing. South Africa may miss this more as a strong home crowd – even with growing support – act like a twelfth man, putting pressure on opponents, especially when they are fresh and nervous. And you can be sure that by the start of the game there will be butterflies in your stomach.
Rahul Dravid, coach of the Indian team, admitted that it was a challenge early on in South Africa. “When you come here, even in the first few online sessions, especially in Centurion where there is bounce, it is difficult to get started right away,” he said, drawing on his experience of playing here. “It’s nice to start strong, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. I’ve been on tours here where we started strong and then lost, and I was on tour here too when we lost the first test and then the next won and drew the third. ”
What makes getting started here so difficult? For starters, the jump. While it’s true that the playing fields here offer more carry than anywhere in India, there are also a number of bounces. If the surface has some moisture to begin with, the jump can be steep, but more like a tennis ball jump. When the sun burns down on the pitch, it tends to get harder and truer on the second and third matchdays and the ball can fly through to the goalkeeper. However, it is most dangerous towards the end of the game when the jump becomes variable.
Add to that the fact that all of South Africa’s fast-paced bowlers are great and you have the perfect recipe for a bowling interrogation. It is clear that the questions will come thick and fast. What is less obvious is how India will respond.
With Rohit Sharma from the series, India’s opening combination of KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal is not your first choice. The middle order is hopelessly short of editions and has been for some time.
For Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, provided they all play, the challenge of beating high-class opponents in difficult conditions could be just what they need to improve their game. All three are seasoned, hungry, and proud cricketers and it is not impossible to see them break the shackles of their poor form that they have been going through for some time. Likewise, it could break them as batsmen. In these conditions, if you develop a particular weakness or a repeated method of discharge, the bowlers will ruthlessly take advantage of it.
One thing is certain. This is going to be a very worth seeing series. In the course of the first test, rain is said to play a role, although the game evening was bright and sunny under the characteristic blue African sky. But the prognosis is not so bad that a clear result is at risk.
With that in mind, and the fact that both teams’ lineups at the moment look like they’re not going to make it big, it’s fair to say we had an argument, didn’t ask a quarter and didn’t give one.
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