Test cricket is about 147 years old & Test cricket in South Africa is about 135 years old. In this large period of history, only 3 teams have ever defeated South Africa in South Africa. The first two were England and Australia, the founders of test cricket, while Sri Lanka miraculously became the only Asian side to ever do it.
Indian test team have come close to achieving this feat on 3 different occasions. First, in 2010/11, when the series was levelled at 1 each and India had South Africa crumbling at 130/6 in 2nd innings after taking a 2-run lead in first. The odds were in India’s favour before Jacques Kallis took things into his own hands and scored a match, saving 109* taking the total to 341, giving India a tough target of 340 to chase in less than a day.
Then Kohli’s side in 2018 showed some real courage when they lost the series 2-1 but were very close to winning in the first test. If not for De Villiers’ counter-attacking 65 and 102 runs added by South Africa’s bottom 5, India might have tasted success for the first time on African soil.
Then the third time in 2021/22, India was actually leading the series 1-0 before the trio of captain Elgar, Bavuma and player of the series Keegan Petersen performed a masterclass with bat to chase down critical totals in the last 2 tests denying India for 8th time.
It’s the 2023/24 summer and things are no different. Both India & South Africa possess a threatening pace attack, coupled with some fresh faces in the batting lineup. The Indian team will surely miss the services of in-form Mohammad Shami, but they still have the potential and hunger to finally end the streak and achieve a victory in the only country they’ve never won before.
South Africa holds a very realistic chance of qualifying for the World Test Championship Final 2025.
They’re supposed to play India, Pakistan & Sri Lanka at home while they’ll be touring New Zealand, Bangladesh & West Indies for away tours. All these series comprise only 2 test matches each, which means in total South Africa will be playing 12 tests. Given the trends of the previous two WTCs, they’ll be required to win at least 8 or 9 of these test matches. South Africa will surely not like to lose any of the home fixtures to maintain their chances, hence this series against India which will mark the start of their campaign is very significant.
The good news for South Africa is that Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi have been declared fit to play for the Centurion test. South Africa can likely go for an out-and-out pace attack consisting of 4 fast bowlers and all-rounder Marco Jansen.
South African veteran Dean Elgar will be playing his last test series as he is set to retire from international cricket. The gritty left-handed opener who captained Proteas in 17 tests will want to end his career on a high.
Probable playing XI: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Tony de Zorzi, Keegan Petersen, Temba Bavuma (c), David Bedingham (wk), Marco Jansen, Gerald Coetzee, Kagiso Rabada, Nandre Burger, Lungi Ngidi.
Out of 23 tests India has played in this country, they’ve won only 4. Aiming for their first-ever test series win in South Africa, India will need to be picture-perfect. The bowling attack of Siraj, Krishna, and Bumrah looks promising, but they’ll surely miss Mohammad Shami, who picked up 14 Wickets in 6 innings with an average of 21, the last time they played in South Africa.
The concern for India lies in their batting, out of their likely top 6 only 3 have played in South Africa before. Gill, Jaiswal & Iyer will be playing their first test series in Africa. Even out of the other 3, only Virat Kohli holds a good record in South Africa with an average of 51, including 2 test 100s.
The previous 2 test series which India played here were primarily decided by the performance of batsmen of both teams. South African batters were at times able to outshine the Indians, but if this time the likes of Iyer, Jaiswal & Gill do their part, then India will surely taste victory on South African shores for the first time in their history.
Probable playing XI: Rohit Sharma (c), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Prasidh Krishna.
Venue & Expectations
The first test which is also the Boxing Day test for this year will be played in Centurion & is expected to be interrupted by rain on the first 2 days.
The previous two test matches held here saw spinners bowling a total of 23 & 40 overs in each test. The first innings are usually high-scoring, but bowlers become more dominant as the test moves on. With rain expected & overcast conditions, things might become difficult for batters from the first bowl itself. Still, winning the toss and batting first will be an obvious choice of both captains as it usually is for most test matches in today’s era.
Dream11 Team for SA vs IND 1st Test 2023
Note: This is not our final Dream11 Team as we are not aware of the Toss Result/Final Playing XI of both teams at this moment.
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