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Nagpur Test: South Africa banking on history while India on form

SA face uphill task to beat hosts despite their enviable record at Nagpur

Nagpur: History can inspire teams to lift their game, but South Africa face an uphill task against India in the third Test at the VCA Stadium, Jamtha. India are 1-0 up and have momentum on their side. On the other hand, South Africa’s batsmen have struggled and they’ve lost key bowlers to injury. Hashim Amla’s men may look back at their 2010 victory at this venue for motivation, but they need a bigger effort to battle the odds.

India spinner Ravindra Jadeja and skipper Virat Kohli during a training session in Nagpur yesterday. PIC/PTIIndia spinner Ravindra Jadeja and skipper Virat Kohli during a training session in Nagpur yesterday. PIC/PTI
India spinner Ravindra Jadeja and skipper Virat Kohli during a training session in Nagpur yesterday. PIC/PTI

Focusing on strengths
India have imposed themselves on South Africa in the Tests so far. “We like to focus on our strengths and believe in our abilities and to sum it all, that’s what putting pressure on the opposition is,” Kohli said. He kept his cards close to his chest though and didn’t reveal his playing combination, “We possibly might make a few changes according to the conditions.”

Thus, India may bring back leggie Amit Mishra to back up Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. “I am sure it is not pleasant facing all three (spinners) together and I am glad we have all three in our team,” Kohli said.

Talking about the pitch, Amla felt it was the kind of wicket one expects in the subcontinent. “We haven’t played our best Test cricket,” Amla admitted on the eve of the game. At Mohali, South Africa were in the contest until the fourth innings collapse. At Bangalore, they were bowled out for 214 on the only day when play was possible. To make matters worse, Amla wasn’t optimistic about Dale Steyn’s fitness ahead of the third Test.

Despite the emphasis on spin in this series, it is unlikely that the tourists would go the India-way and play three tweakers. That is because they have reliable part-timers in JP Duminy and Dean Elgar. The onus is on the South African batsmen if they are to bounce back in the series. “The issue has been more with the lack of runs than the lack of wickets,” Amla said.

Meanwhile, there is no threat of rain. The sun was shining over the arena on the eve of the Test — a great sight, especially after what transpired at Bangalore.

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