After imposing a follow-on over South Africa in the Pune Test and inflicting an innings and 137-run defeat over the vistors, India took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the 3-match Test series. Having sealed the series already, Virat Kohli-led India side will be now looking for a whitewash in Ranchi to rewrite history.
India have never clean swept South Africa in a Test series, though the two teams have been engaged in the longest format of the game against each other since past 27 years, having played the first Test series in 1992-23 and nine more after that.
The last time the two sides played each other when India toured South Africa in 2017-18, the hosts won the 3-match series 2-1. Prior to that when India hosted the Freedom Trophy in 2015, the Indian side clinched the 4-match series 3-0 with a match drawn.
South Africa lost the first two Tests of the ongoing series by humomgous margins– 203 runs (1st Test), 137 runs (2nd Test) and it will be an unmeasured task for them to figure out how to get themselves out of the deep hole they are in. The visiting side has failed in both the departments in the last two Tests. Neither have their batsmen showed consistency with the bat nor have their bolwers been able to create wicket-taking chances.
Keshav Maharaj bowled 127 overs in the 2 Tests but he won’t be bowling more due to an injured shoulder. South Africa will also not have their usual opener Aiden Markram with them in Ranchi after fracturing his wrist in frustration following his second duck in Pune.
Before touring India, the turning tracks were a concern for the Proteas, something they were troubled by during their 2015 tour. However, South Africa were equally troubled by pace on the Vizag and Pune tracks as they lost 16 of their 40 wickets to the fast bowlers.
If South Africa lose the 3rd Test as well, it will be only the third instance of them getting whitewashed in a series of 3 or more Tests since their re-admission after the end of the Apartheid era. Their previous two loses came gainst Australia in 2001-02 (away) and 2005-06 (home).
While South Africa have a thread of worries, India, on the other hand, are almost sorted in every department. Virat Kohli, who has been in search of a Test century since long, smashed a double hundred in Pune — his first ton of the season.
If India win the Ranchi Test to make it 3-0, Virat Kohli will surpass Graeme Smith as most successful Test captain involving India and South Africa. Also, if the swashbuckling batsman gets 44-plus runs in Ranchi, he will become only the 6th captain to have 5,000 Test runs.
Though form and momentum remain to be on India’s side, Virat Kohli will still be hoping to win the toss in the last Test as well. While winning the toss alone is not the most decisive factor in the outcome of a Test, one cannot deny that it does have a bearing on the result, especially in the subcontinent.
South Africa captain Faf du Plessis has now lost nine successive tosses in Asia and is desperate to even the odds for his team in Ranchi and open the World Test Championships account. For that, he might even send someone else in his place at toss on Saturday.
“Probably will [send] somebody else to the toss tomorrow, I’ll give you that, because my record so far hasn’t been great,” du Plessis had said at the pre-match press-conference.