India vs South Africa: Who will be Virat Kohli’s big challenge - Top 5 player battles
India lead the World Test Championship with 120 points, South Africa are yet to play a Test match. In their home conditions, India, the number 1 ranked side in the world, will start as overwhelming favourites, but South Africa too have the players to give the hosts a run for their money. Here in this article, we take a look at the top 5 interesting player battles:
Vernon Philander v Cheteshwar Pujara
The two Test specialists - Cheteshwar Pujara and Vernon Philander will lock horns and this will be a battle for the purists. Philander’s career strike-rate of 48.6 is the third-highest for South African bowlers with more than 200 Test wickets – with only Dale Steyn and Allan Donald ahead of him.
Pujara did find any rhythm in the West Indies tour, but remains an important cog for India and hence, he will be a prized scalp for South Africa right through the series.
Faf du Plessis v Ravindra Jadeja
Jadeja, India’s prime all-rounder in Test Cricket, has been a match-winner for Virat Kohli in home conditions, with 144 wickets from 28 games at an average of 19.71.
He will important against Faf du Plessis - the South African captain has been a prolific run-scorer for his side in limited-overs format but has struggled in Tests. He has managed to score only 60 runs from seven innings on the previous tour. He fell to spin on each of those occasions, and Jadeja got the better of him in four innings.
Kagiso Rabada vs Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli, the number 2 Test batsman in the world versus Kagiso Rabada, the number 2 Test bowler in the world - they will lock horns and it will be compelling to watch.
The young pacer has a bowling strike-rate of 38.81 – which is the best among bowlers with more than 150 Test wickets. On the other hand, Kohli has been in superb form and amassed 286 runs from three Tests when these two sides last met in 2017-18 and will once again look to get back the number 1 rank from Steve Smith.
Ravichandran Ashwin vs Dean Elgar
India’s premier off-spinner sat out of the West Indies tour, but he should find a place in the starting XI when the sides walk out for the first Test match. And he will be more than a handful against Dean Elgar - his career bowling average of 25.43 drops below 20 against left-handers.
Elgar, one of South Africa’s most prolific batsmen in Tests, has struggled against Ashwin - he has already been dismissed five times by the off-spinner in 11 innings.