How the second Test will be decided between the Proteas and India will be decided
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Johannesburg - The second Test between South Africa and India starts at The Wanderers in Joburg this morning.
Here, Stuart Hess takes a look at the key match-ups ...
Ngidi and Rabada v India openers
KL Rahul and Mayank Agwarwal won this battle in Centurion and as a result set up India’s victory in the first Test.
As well as SA did to recover, they have to make some early in-roads to unsettle India’s middle order.
Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada both got better as the first Test unfolded and for SA’s sake hopefully their improvement continues.
Kohli v himself (and the SA Bowlers)
The India captain is under pressure, not just from a runs perspective, but, as Rahul Dravid put it yesterday, from all the “noise” around him resulting from the Indian cricket board’s decision to remove him as captain of the limited overs team.
Dravid said Virat Kohli is looking good and he expects big runs to be around the corner for the great man.
The home team’s bowlers will need to keep Kohli locked down early on to intensify the pressure on the tourists.
Markram and Elgar v Bumrah and Shami
The Indian pacemen won this battle at SuperSport Park, despite SA skipper Dean Elgar’s halfcentury in the second innings.
All the pressure is on the SA opening pair, who really owe their teammates a good start after a run of very poor opening stands.
There is talk about shifting around the batting order, but it would be meaningless if the home side are again one wicket down inside the first few overs.
SA middle order v India seamers
Quinton de Kock’s departure from the series was expected, so Kyle Verreynne knew he would be playing.
Verreynne doesn’t have the same kind of distractions as De Kock has had recently and is a gritty competitor.
Temba Bavuma’s two innings in Centurion have set him up for the series, and it is well past time for him to deliver a big and potentially match-winning knock for his country.