India hold upper hand against Proteas in third Test

Nagpur, Nov 24 (IANS) Leading 1-0 in the four-match Test series after the washout in Bengaluru, India will aim to once again put up a dominating performance when the two sides face off in the third and penultimate match at the Vidarba Cricket Association Stadium here from Wednesday.

With the pitch in Jamtha sporting a dry and spin friendly track, one can expect a low-scoring game between World No.1 South Africa and the fourth ranked hosts.

As in the first two Tests, India will hold the edge with their spinning trio of Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra and Ravindra Jadeja making the contest tougher for the visitors’ batsman.

Both sides will be anxiously and waiting to take the field on Wednesday after the second Test at Bengaluru produced no result because rain washed out play and the outfield was wet.

India skipper Virat Kohli, who led his team to a thumping win inside three days in the first Test at Mohali, was very disappointed after the second was washed out after India took the upper hand by bowling out the visitors inside first day.

So far in the series, the Indian spinners have been in the limelight for all the good reasons. The seamers did not get too much support from the pitch and the wicket in Nagpur might go in favour of slower bowlers as well.

In terms of hosts’ batting, barring opener Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara, nothing much can be said about in the low-scoring first Test at Mohali. With the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane the batting looks quite strong but needs to click on the particular day.

The fielding by the Indians was spot on in the first Test and the opening day of the second Test. Wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha proved quite effective with his stumpings and catches.

On the other hand, the visitors will once again rely on their batsman Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers to deliver for them after the flop show by Faf du Plessis in the three innings so far. Dean Elgar who showed his skills with the bat will come handy.

The Proteas have some good memories from their last outing here.

The last time they played a Test in Nagpur was in February 2010 when Amla scored a brilliant unbeaten 253 and the visitors went on to post a huge total of 558/6 declared in the first innings.

In reply, India went on to lose the match by an innings and six runs, thanks to some terrific bowling by Dale Steyn which saw him claim 10 wickets in the match. That included a seven-wicket haul in the first innings.

In the pace department, there is still a question mark on Dale Steyn’s fitness and the Proteas will wait till Wednesday morning before taking a call on the experienced fast bowler. If Steyn is unable to play, Morne Morkel may have to lead the South African pace attack since Vernon Philander is also ruled out due to injury.

Legspinner Imran Tahir would find himself alongside either Simon Harmer or Dane Piedt in the spin department.

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