Cape Town: After registering nine consecutive Test series victories since 2015, India will be duly tested in overseas conditions when they aim to overcome a formidable South Africa in the first of three match series at the Newlands here on Friday.
India maintained their Test series winning streak since defeating Sri Lanka 2-1 in their away series. The top ranked side in the longest format had also defeated South Africa on their own turf in the 2015-16 Freedom Trophy series.
However, India have not won against the Proteas on South African soil since 1992 — losing four and drawing one in 2010-11.
India will bank on their premier batsmen — Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli — who ended 2017 as the second and fourth highest runs scorers in the longset format respectively in the calender year to help their side maintain its top Test status.
Key Indian batsmen Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Murali Vijay and Lokesh Rahul will only look to add depth to the batting department.
Skipper Kohli might opt to play an extra batsman — Rohit Sharma — in place of Ravindra Jadeja, who is down with flu.
Pacer Jasprit Bumrah — who received his maiden call up in Test squad — alongside Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar will be tested against the fearsome South African batting on the green-top wicket.
Second ranked Test side South Africa, on the other hand will look to flourish on their home conditions under the likes of batsmen Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis.
The well set-up bowling department will be led by pacer Kagiso Rabada — who ranks second in the Test bowlers list alongside fit again Dale Steyn, right-armer Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander who will target to dismiss the visitors right from the start of the match.
India: Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli(captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha(wicket-keeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Parthiv Patel, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Hardik Pandya, Lokesh Rahul.
South Africa: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Temba Bavuma, Faf du Plessis(captain), Quinton de Kock (wicket-keeper), Andile Phehlukwayo, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn, Chris Morris, Vernon Philander, Theunis de Bruyn. (IANS)