3rd Test: Virat Kohli and Co play for pride, but SA yet to beat them at Johannesburg
Defeated Indians forced to play for pride, but SA have yet to beat them in a Jo-burg Test
India skipper Virat Kohli checks the grip of his bat during a training session on the eve of the third and final Test against SA in Johannesburg yesterday. Pic/AFP
It is one of the great ironies of South African cricket that they have never beaten India at a ground they consider most conducive to producing a pitch that has pace and bounce. In four games here, India have drawn three and won in 2006-07 when S Sreesanth breathed fire. In 1997, South Africa were chasing 356 for victory and just about hung in there at 288 for eight, Daryl Cullinan, Lance Klusener and rain thwarting the visitors.
The Bullring, as the Wanderers is best known, is a ground that Virat Kohli is comfortable in, and he admitted that he felt a sense of confidence and belonging whenever he walked out to the middle. That will be seriously tested today as South Africa look to wrap up a 3-0 whitewash. It's not often that a team gets the chance to blank out the World No. 1 ranked team and Faf du Plessis was licking his lips at the prospect.
"It's big. Just playing against India, you don't get the opportunity a lot to be in a position of strength where we can beat them 3-0," said Du Plessis. "Consistency is something we want to have as much as possible. Leading into the Australia series, we want to go into it with that momentum we have been gathering over the last two games. Australia have been playing some really good cricket, so by no means is anyone in the team thinking this is an opportunity to take our foot off the gas. We are really motivated to get a 3-0 win."
And Du Plessis, who helms a settled team, knew exactly what his team needed to do to seal the deal. "For us as a team, it's pretty simple. Just be doing the things that we've been doing right through the series and do it well. Whether it's batting in partnerships, getting those partnerships together. As a batter, if you do get in, you try and string together a nice partnership. Both teams have been taking 20 wickets, and I assume that that will happen again. We've got a strong bowling attack on conditions that will suit them."
For India, avoiding the ignominy of 0-3 was a major concern, and Kohli revealed what he thought needed to happen to get a result in their favour. "Fielding is obviously a big factor. They have fielded better than us and it's visible and not a question of having numbers attached to it. That is something we definitely need to step up because fielding I feel is a bit of a controllable on the field," said Kohli. "Batting, there's always a bowler involved who has his skills as well and same for a bowler up against a batsman."
As always, all options were open for India when it came to picking the playing XI, and Kohli went as far as saying, "Well chances of anything happening are very bright." He will be hoping that his team losing is not one of those things.
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