South Africa v India, 1st Test, Johannesburg December 17, 2013

Out-of-practice India against stiff odds

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Dravid: What India's batsmen must do at Wanderers

Match facts

December 18-22, 2013, Johannesburg
Start time 1030 local (0830GMT)

Big picture

After months of squabbling between the boards, during which the itinerary was rejigged and clipped, the Test series between the first and second ranked teams is finally here. It is not of the ideal length - with only two matches - and it is not at the ideal venues - Cape Town doesn't have a match - but it is happening and hopes are for a hard-fought tussle.

The last time these two teams met in South Africa, in 2010-11, India were No. 1 under Gary Kirsten, and played their best series away from home in the last three years. Since then their away record is abysmal, with 0-4 whitewashes in England and Australia, and their high ranking is a result of strong performances in India.

The conditions in South Africa will be India's biggest challenge. Their new batting line-up will be desperate to prove their ability on fast and bouncy pitches against a bowling attack that is regarded the best in the world. They are, however, going into the Test series cold, having had no long-form match practice in South Africa because their solitary practice game was washed out. If they don't hit the ground running, the series could be lost quickly.

For South Africa, it is a rich end to a year largely devoid of Test cricket. They have played only seven matches and had a seven-month gap between their 2012-13 home season and a tour of the UAE. They have lost only one of those games. Last summer, South Africa won all five Tests at home, and with a lean schedule again next year, they will want a similar result to extend their lead at the top of the rankings.

Form guide

(last five completed games most recent first)

South Africa WLWWW
India WWWWW

In the spotlight

The series against Pakistan in the UAE this year was Jacques Kallis' poorest since his debut in 1995. He failed to get into double figures and did not take a wicket. Kallis' last century was in Brisbane in November 2012, and though he is not under pressure to retain his place, he will want to perform. Apart from scoring runs, Kallis will have an important role to play with the ball on a pitch that should have some assistance for the fast bowlers.

There are few bigger mantles in cricket to take on than being Sachin Tendulkar's successor at No. 4 in India's batting order, and that responsibility belongs to Virat Kohli. South Africa's bowlers have identified him as one of the most dangerous batsmen in India's line-up and he is also their most experienced, in terms of Test caps, in the top six. Kohli has had tremendous success in limited-overs matches this year and the time has come for him to have a similar impact in the longer format.

Team news

South Africa announced their XI on the eve of the match and there were no surprises. They picked three specialist quicks and Imran Tahir as the spinner ahead of Robin Peterson. Hashim Amla returned after missing the Dubai Test on paternity leave in place of Dean Elgar, while AB de Villiers will keep wicket and bat at No.5.

South Africa: 1 Graeme Smith (capt) 2 Alviro Petersen, 3 Hashim Amla 4 Jacques Kallis, 5 AB de Villiers (wk), 6 Faf du Plessis, 7 JP Duminy 8 Vernon Philander, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Imran Tahir

This is India's first Test since Tendulkar retired and their line-up has a vastly inexperienced look. Kohli is likely to move up the order to No. 4, making space for Ajinkya Rahane at No. 6. They will probably opt for three quicks too, with Ishant Sharma preferred over Bhuvneshwar Kumar because of his pace.

India: (likely) 1 M Vijay, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Rohit Sharma, 6 Ajinkya Rahane, 7 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 8 R Ashwin, 9 Ishant Sharma, 10 Zaheer Khan, 11 Mohammed Shami

Pitch and conditions

The Wanderers groundsman has promised a typical Johannesburg surface, which will facilitate bounce and carry but also have plenty of runs. Graeme Smith was happy with what he saw the day before the Test. "There's moisture in this wicket and cracks are looking good," he said. The persistent rain that fell over the Highveld throughout last week has mostly dried up but thundershowers are expected every day of the game. Thursday looks like it could be the wettest.

Stats and trivia

  • The last time South Africa lost a Test at home was in December 2011, against Sri Lanka. They have won all six Tests since.

  • There has not been a drawn Test in Johannesburg since December 2000, when the New Zealand - South Africa Test was ruined by rain. The last 12 matches at the Wanderers have had results.

  • Vernon Philander is five wickets away from 100 Test wickets. If he gets there at the Wanderers, he will be the joint sixth fastest bowler to do so. For India, Zaheer Khan is five away from 300 wickets.

  • MS Dhoni is the only member of the India's top seven to have played more than 20 Tests. The Johannesburg Test will be his 50th as captain.

Quotes

"Jo'burg people are very vocal and intense. The Bullring is a place we enjoy playing at. At the Wanderers, if you can post decent totals you give yourself the best chance of winning the game."
Though India have not lost any of their three Tests at Wanderers, Graeme Smith believes the home advantage will count for something

"One of the most crucial things will be to bowl well. It will be very important to hit the right areas and try to hit the top of off stump."
India captain MS Dhoni

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • IndianSRTfan on December 18, 2013, 2:20 GMT

    This is it. Finally Cricket takes the center stage. As a true Indian fan, I want our young batsmen to show some grit. They certainly have a lot of examples which they can use as an inspiration to forge their own stories.

    Gavaskar debuted against mighty WI and conquered them.

    Sachin was only 19 and had played only 16 tests when he faced a formidable Aussie attack on a WACA track with scary bounce and came out shining.

    Rahul and Sourav were making their debuts in unfamiliar cold and swinging conditions of England and both showed us their class.

    Sehwag made his debut against these very same opponents of today and mesmerized us.

    So why did all these batsman succeed in unfamiliar conditions without any prior experience? They played their natural game and didn't worry about the strengths of the opposition. The opposition is formidable but if current batsmen focus on their strengths, this can be done. This is it. The Gold Standard of success. Show us some fight India, Good Luck.

  • Cricket_Srini on December 18, 2013, 9:53 GMT

    Can someone explain me the theory behind picking Murali Vijay?

  • on December 18, 2013, 9:48 GMT

    @vrkp MSD & U might be probably right; IMO, to even get to the discussion about bowlers we need to put some runs on board. The 1st wicket went for a pull, the 2nd one went for a poke outside off.

  • shane-oh on December 18, 2013, 9:12 GMT

    @TSJ07 - 'doctored pitches'? Really? Sorry to say but it sounds like you are making excuses for losses before they even happen. This is the reality of international cricket - teams have to play in conditions that aren't what they are used to at home. There's a growing trend of just always blaming conditions when a tam is outplayed.

    And don't worry - I'm sure it won't be long before the BCCI dictates that all nations must prepare Indian style pitches.

  • MichaelBurton on December 18, 2013, 9:10 GMT

    I don't think we could win atleast a single match. What we have to do is just to try to avoid humiliation. Our Asian rivals, Pak and SL did well against SA both recent away and home series. Pak won 2 ODIs + 1 T20 in SA and 1 test+1 ODI in UAE. SL managed to beat SA in 1 test + 2 ODIs in SA and 4 ODIs + 1 T20 in SL. We were whitewashed in ODIs. We can't expect anything other than whitewash in tests too. It is a pitty that we have become home bulies after the retirement of true legends master Sachin and Dravid. We need such plyaers for the current team. Pujara has shown the signs of becoming such a legend. Please save him for the future. Good luck for the team India.

  • MichaelBurton on December 18, 2013, 8:56 GMT

    I don't think we could win atleast a single match. What we have to do is just to try to avoid humiliation. Our Asian rivals, Pak and SL did well against SA both recent away and home series. Pak won 2 ODIs + 1 T20 in SA and 1 test+1 ODI in UAE. SL managed to beat SA in 1 test + 2 ODIs in SA and 4 ODIs + 1 T20 in SL. We were whitewashed in ODIs. We can't expect anything other than whitewash in tests too. It is a pitty that we have become home bulies after the retirement of true legends master Sachin and Dravid. We need such plyaers for the current team. Pujara has shown the signs of becoming such a legend. Please save him for the future. Good luck for the team India.

  • Iceman29 on December 18, 2013, 8:51 GMT

    Nothing to lose for Ind in this series as they have already been humiliated in oneday matches....just play for pride guys and give a good fight it doesn't matter if we loose but atleast give a good fight..best of luck

  • TSJ07 on December 18, 2013, 8:43 GMT

    Fijicricket on (December 18, 2013, 8:24 GMT) .............Calm down mate!!

    All Mr. Sajid said was that Indian bowlers need some guidance and we do not have fast bowling experts in our country due to obvious reasons. I also agree that instead of paying useless AUS fast bowling coaches we should hire great fast bowlers from out neighboring country.

    Posted by coarsecricketer on (December 18, 2013, 8:13 GMT) ....again I agree with you mate. SA has been only the team which has done very very well in subcontinent due to great fast bowlers they had and have now.SA is my 2nd fav after India.Wishing a good luck to both but teams.

  • on December 18, 2013, 8:34 GMT

    @BigINDFan

    Hikz.. u will never know what will happen to India in next world cup. yes if you play in India then u will win. SL is a strong team with lot of talents. we don't need Sanga, Mahela, Dilshan.. young players are more than enough to play the game & win. Whr's your Kohli, Rohith, Dawan, Jadeja.. not even a century.. Kohli 31 runs for two innings is that y u call him the best player.. Only in India..

  • TSJ07 on December 18, 2013, 8:33 GMT

    India should have batted 1st as their bowlers strength is swing and seam and not pace. The only time they could have got seam and swing going was 1st few hours of play.Later it will all be bounce. Thats brave decision and I can recall same brave decision Dravid took against and in Pak which backfired.I hope it dosn't get repeated.

  • IndianSRTfan on December 18, 2013, 2:20 GMT

    This is it. Finally Cricket takes the center stage. As a true Indian fan, I want our young batsmen to show some grit. They certainly have a lot of examples which they can use as an inspiration to forge their own stories.

    Gavaskar debuted against mighty WI and conquered them.

    Sachin was only 19 and had played only 16 tests when he faced a formidable Aussie attack on a WACA track with scary bounce and came out shining.

    Rahul and Sourav were making their debuts in unfamiliar cold and swinging conditions of England and both showed us their class.

    Sehwag made his debut against these very same opponents of today and mesmerized us.

    So why did all these batsman succeed in unfamiliar conditions without any prior experience? They played their natural game and didn't worry about the strengths of the opposition. The opposition is formidable but if current batsmen focus on their strengths, this can be done. This is it. The Gold Standard of success. Show us some fight India, Good Luck.

  • Cricket_Srini on December 18, 2013, 9:53 GMT

    Can someone explain me the theory behind picking Murali Vijay?

  • on December 18, 2013, 9:48 GMT

    @vrkp MSD & U might be probably right; IMO, to even get to the discussion about bowlers we need to put some runs on board. The 1st wicket went for a pull, the 2nd one went for a poke outside off.

  • shane-oh on December 18, 2013, 9:12 GMT

    @TSJ07 - 'doctored pitches'? Really? Sorry to say but it sounds like you are making excuses for losses before they even happen. This is the reality of international cricket - teams have to play in conditions that aren't what they are used to at home. There's a growing trend of just always blaming conditions when a tam is outplayed.

    And don't worry - I'm sure it won't be long before the BCCI dictates that all nations must prepare Indian style pitches.

  • MichaelBurton on December 18, 2013, 9:10 GMT

    I don't think we could win atleast a single match. What we have to do is just to try to avoid humiliation. Our Asian rivals, Pak and SL did well against SA both recent away and home series. Pak won 2 ODIs + 1 T20 in SA and 1 test+1 ODI in UAE. SL managed to beat SA in 1 test + 2 ODIs in SA and 4 ODIs + 1 T20 in SL. We were whitewashed in ODIs. We can't expect anything other than whitewash in tests too. It is a pitty that we have become home bulies after the retirement of true legends master Sachin and Dravid. We need such plyaers for the current team. Pujara has shown the signs of becoming such a legend. Please save him for the future. Good luck for the team India.

  • MichaelBurton on December 18, 2013, 8:56 GMT

    I don't think we could win atleast a single match. What we have to do is just to try to avoid humiliation. Our Asian rivals, Pak and SL did well against SA both recent away and home series. Pak won 2 ODIs + 1 T20 in SA and 1 test+1 ODI in UAE. SL managed to beat SA in 1 test + 2 ODIs in SA and 4 ODIs + 1 T20 in SL. We were whitewashed in ODIs. We can't expect anything other than whitewash in tests too. It is a pitty that we have become home bulies after the retirement of true legends master Sachin and Dravid. We need such plyaers for the current team. Pujara has shown the signs of becoming such a legend. Please save him for the future. Good luck for the team India.

  • Iceman29 on December 18, 2013, 8:51 GMT

    Nothing to lose for Ind in this series as they have already been humiliated in oneday matches....just play for pride guys and give a good fight it doesn't matter if we loose but atleast give a good fight..best of luck

  • TSJ07 on December 18, 2013, 8:43 GMT

    Fijicricket on (December 18, 2013, 8:24 GMT) .............Calm down mate!!

    All Mr. Sajid said was that Indian bowlers need some guidance and we do not have fast bowling experts in our country due to obvious reasons. I also agree that instead of paying useless AUS fast bowling coaches we should hire great fast bowlers from out neighboring country.

    Posted by coarsecricketer on (December 18, 2013, 8:13 GMT) ....again I agree with you mate. SA has been only the team which has done very very well in subcontinent due to great fast bowlers they had and have now.SA is my 2nd fav after India.Wishing a good luck to both but teams.

  • on December 18, 2013, 8:34 GMT

    @BigINDFan

    Hikz.. u will never know what will happen to India in next world cup. yes if you play in India then u will win. SL is a strong team with lot of talents. we don't need Sanga, Mahela, Dilshan.. young players are more than enough to play the game & win. Whr's your Kohli, Rohith, Dawan, Jadeja.. not even a century.. Kohli 31 runs for two innings is that y u call him the best player.. Only in India..

  • TSJ07 on December 18, 2013, 8:33 GMT

    India should have batted 1st as their bowlers strength is swing and seam and not pace. The only time they could have got seam and swing going was 1st few hours of play.Later it will all be bounce. Thats brave decision and I can recall same brave decision Dravid took against and in Pak which backfired.I hope it dosn't get repeated.

  • ooper_cut on December 18, 2013, 8:26 GMT

    My memories go back to the 1991-92 Aussie tour, the first one for sachin. We were always 32-3 or 55/5 until kapil dev, more or prabhakar came up with some runs. Kapil and Prabhakar were a potent bowling combination too. We dont have even that in this team now, absolute raw !!

  • Fijicricket on December 18, 2013, 8:24 GMT

    M Sajid Iqbal Chaudhary on (December 18, 2013, 8:00 GMT)If Pakistan knows the art of wicket taking and are good at reading the situation and playing conditions and have a good bowling coaches like Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar or Waqar younis, how come they cannot bowl out Afghanistan or Zimbabwe or even Ireland? Top rated teams like India do not need advise from low rated teams that cant even beat Aghanistan or Zimbabwe!

  • AltafPatel on December 18, 2013, 8:19 GMT

    Amazed that Tahir included in faster aiding track. This will ease for Indian batsmen to be patient against Steyn and Philander and later score quickly against Tahir. Instead they could have included Abbott who took 27/7 in his first career match this year.

  • on December 18, 2013, 8:17 GMT

    Young Ind must prove it. Umesh Yadav must have been there.Ind is touring for the 1st time without RSD, VVS, SRT. Now it the turn of Pujara, Kohli, Rohit Sharma to prov ether mantle. Test cricket is the mantel & caliber of the batsman & bowle. Finally cricket is the winner. They must have the fightingnspirit. Best of luck for both the teams.

  • Fijicricket on December 18, 2013, 8:17 GMT

    @UKFIX on (December 18, 2013, 6:28 GMT) Pakistan folded up all out 49! India will do better mark my word! As for India to win outside of India , for you info- India won the Champions trophy in England and beat EVERY team there (thats NOT in INDIA as your comments suggest you probably dont know), beat Windies in the Carribean,(thats NOT in India) Beat Zimbabwe in Harrare (NOT in India again) This is real cricket. India are not like your lowrated team- Pls get your facts straight and then face the music.

  • kapilesh23 on December 18, 2013, 8:16 GMT

    I will hope that Indian Fans don't go after the team if they perform badly. Just after two failures without practice matches, each young Indian batsman has been marked unworthy.. just after two failures!. I don't wish to see India winning this test match because it is a very distant possibility, I wish to see India playing good hard cricket.

  • coarsecricketer on December 18, 2013, 8:13 GMT

    Leading up to this series we have constantly seen comments posted implying that South Africa are just as poor on slow, turning subcontinental pitches as India are on the quick, bouncy tracks of SA. As if the two sides were more or less on a par home and away. This is simply nonsense, as the facts will show.

    FACT 1: Of 34 Tests played on the subcontinent, SA have lost only 11. They have won a Test series on the subcontinent, at least once, against EVERY subcontinental Test-playing nation. In 5 attempts, India have won only 2 home series in India against SA.

    FACT 2: Of 38 Tests played by subcontinental teams against SA in SA, subcontinental teams have lost 28. No subcontinental team has EVER won a Test series against SA in SA. Out of 5 Test series in SA, India have lost 4 and drawn 1.

    Conclusion: India has almost no hope of winning the series in SA. And SA is FAR BETTER in subcontinental conditions than subcontinental teams are in SA.

  • on December 18, 2013, 8:00 GMT

    india need a good bowling coach like Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar or Waqar younis who can teach them the art of wicket taking. Although indiad bowlers have good talent but they are missing something reading the situation and playing conditions.

  • TSJ07 on December 18, 2013, 7:56 GMT

    Some of us Indian fans are hoping that this young team will be able t draw at least one match, which according to them will be great result.It sounds good but IMO the way pitches are being prepared I doubt there will be any drawn test match. Just hope that one of two result goes our way which again looks like impossible against much superior bowling attack in their own home on doctored pitches.

  • on December 18, 2013, 7:56 GMT

    Strange that Cricinfo is describing India as 'Out-of-practice'. Are you providing them a face-saving? Let it go. If you are World No.1 side then such excuses won't help you in a 'safe-escape'. The World's top side should perform in all-weather conditions. There should be no excuses.

  • IndianInnerEdge on December 18, 2013, 7:56 GMT

    Time for ZAk, Shikhar, Virat to walk the talk....else they are gonna keep walking lots in the leather hunt....hope india go in with 4 pacers.....Cmon india

  • Jaybass32 on December 18, 2013, 7:55 GMT

    Indian Team must be prepared to be shown that they need to play more overseas... The innings defeats will show this when it's all said and done... (Interested to see how Pujara does though l must admit, I think his technique can hold up... We already know Kholi is not bad...) welcome to real cricket India lol

  • karmachandran on December 18, 2013, 7:37 GMT

    Looking forward to this battle. The young India has nothing to loose and everything to play for. The two old warhorses in the SA line up have their reputation to protect and will be under pressure. Come on India, go out and win and conquer the hearts and minds of the rainbow nation by playing the great game as it should be played.

  • on December 18, 2013, 7:27 GMT

    guys beware of Steyn and ab de...they suffer u lot

  • howazzat on December 18, 2013, 7:18 GMT

    As a S.African I am itching with excitement for this one. Looking forward to seeing how India's young guns come out and wish them luck - I love the way they play. Would also love Kallis to get amoungst the runs....with Tendulkar's retirement he is now international crickets leading statesman still playing the game. Pity it's only two Tests - politics!!! On the selection front I would have liked to have seen Quinton de Kock's 3 consequtive centuries rewarded with a Test cap, perhaps in place of Faf....or dare I say it....SMITH! Good luch boys!

  • Bleed_Blues on December 18, 2013, 7:18 GMT

    we want a fighting contest instead of one sided. Come on India!!!

  • on December 18, 2013, 7:18 GMT

    What out of practice? They are one of the most test played nation for last 5 years. No other side than England and Australia have played more test matches than India and they are still not in practice. What a Joke.

  • on December 18, 2013, 7:15 GMT

    I believe India should play five bowlers i.e. 4 fast bowlers and ashwin as a lone spinner. Bhuwneshwar kumar should be played instead of Rahane, bcoz u can't expect a seventh batsman to cover for the failure of other six just in case they fail. Bhuwneshwar kumar can swing the new ball and could be India's answer to phillander. Plus this gives dhoni extra attacking option and a variety to the bowling.. I would have done that for sure...

  • loveNpeace on December 18, 2013, 7:02 GMT

    "Out-of-practice India against stiff odds" are you kidding me ? when ever they play out of india they are like out of practice. no point of practicing for one series. they should start making good quality wickets back in india and make it even. also they need bigger grounds (outfields), so they will know how to score on bigger grounds

  • on December 18, 2013, 7:00 GMT

    India shld bat first and post huge score to put Proteas under pressure. With Five bowlers we can win MSD.

  • Fast_Track_Bully on December 18, 2013, 6:55 GMT

    It would be good to field 4 fast bowlers - Zak, Shami, Ishant and Umesh. Spinner may not be a good option as SA track will not suit for spinners for sure and Rohit can bowl few overs. SA will cover their weakness by preparing fast bowling pitch.

  • Jeeves_ on December 18, 2013, 6:53 GMT

    Any idea why Rory Kleinveldt is in the squad? He is the worst bowler I've ever seen representing South Africa. I can't see any reason other than window-dressing for his selection. Same goes for Tsokele. Rather identify and groom young talent. There's got to be more Hershelle Gibbs around! Gibbs was ready for international cricket at 20.

  • Dhoni_Gang on December 18, 2013, 6:51 GMT

    @UKFIX: who told this is real cricket and in IND it is not a real cricket ,do u think cricket means only fast bowling tracks , u have fast bowling strength so u preparing fast tracks thats all. In Asia it is spin tracks. real cricket means fast tracks,spin tracks and flat tracks also if i tell green dress is not a real dress and only blue dress is real dress because indian team is wearing blue, do u agree? no one will agree.So dont try to call Fast track cricket is real cricket.

  • Dhoni_Gang on December 18, 2013, 6:44 GMT

    Its time to fight , All the best to the young indian team if u can play up to ur standards no one can beat u . expecting good batting from kohli,pujara and rohit.

  • testmatchonly on December 18, 2013, 6:44 GMT

    Men will reveal themselves. Boys will carry bottles. Halo's will be ripped. Fakes will be busted. Careers will be defined.The real deal is on in rainbow nation. Lets see what this "new gen" Indian team is made of !!

  • on December 18, 2013, 6:40 GMT

    Real test for india real test for dhoni

  • MetalKat on December 18, 2013, 6:37 GMT

    Don't understand why batsmen are given a higher priority over bowlers. Any match is completely based on how the bowlers perform. All the sides have good batsmen. If a team bowls well, the batmen in the other team will not be able to score and if a team does not bowl well, the batsmen in the other team will shine.. When we are playing a match that is conducive to quick bowling, why not go with an extra bowler ? I think this is the first time ever India has an option of playing 5 quality bowlers.. why squander that chance away ?? If Dhoni has to show aggression, the best way is to play 5 bowlers and show confidence on his 5 batsmen. Lets keep the Proteas guessing.. Game on !!

  • on December 18, 2013, 6:36 GMT

    hello, we are mentally prepared to loss. its ok south africa also lost matches outside south africa why make issue out of it. the trend is now play well at home matches and win. out of country matches not really keen to win. play like a formality. england also lost in Australia so ok

  • NealKn on December 18, 2013, 6:35 GMT

    @black_bird on (December 18, 2013, 5:51 GMT) said: "India will finish this match within 3 days with inning victory. mark my word. i will search indian haters then. best of luck no.1 india."

    == That's what is called height of expectation :-) . Indeed there's a good chance that the game will be finished in 3 days but not the way you think....

  • Vivfan on December 18, 2013, 6:31 GMT

    Ofcourse India will bank on the flatness of the pitch, that's the only type of wicket they can score on.

  • on December 18, 2013, 6:29 GMT

    Will India prove that they are not flat track bullies I doubt

  • ZCFOutkast on December 18, 2013, 6:29 GMT

    Unsurprisingly I'm right behind India in this one. That whole country is at a standstill with their boys playing cricket. Meanwhile, South Africa isn't aware that the Proteas are in action.

  • UKFIX on December 18, 2013, 6:28 GMT

    Hi black_bird, i know you are indian and like every indian you India to win outside Inda but record does not support this. Yes match will finish in 3 days but winer will be SA, mark my word. India chaes 350 against AUS but again record shows that Indian bowling is the only bowling in the world who conceded 300+ runs more than any other. See teh scor at the end of day. Yuo are not playing in India dear. This is real cricket. Face the music.

  • chathuradil on December 18, 2013, 6:27 GMT

    so hard to forget the famous 8-0. can they make it 10-0 :)

  • wakaPAK on December 18, 2013, 6:26 GMT

    For God sake, stop this 'everyone is king at home' song; almost every Indian fan is singing it just to cheer himself up. Australia lost to you in India but they were at least competent; they at least put up a good fight. Give turners to SA, they'll still beat you or at least draw the series; give them fast pitches they'll surely beat you...

  • on December 18, 2013, 6:24 GMT

    Surely , this would be test of character, temperament and technic for the young indian batting line up. I think the indians would be blown away by the bodies line fire.

  • PureProteas49 on December 18, 2013, 6:20 GMT

    @Dhoni_Gang. Why are you harping on about ODI And T20 cricket when this is a test series, btw we know all about your wonderful ODI side, the ODI series here settled that very quickly, anyway lets see what your little ones have got today

  • Cricfever_PM on December 18, 2013, 6:17 GMT

    Though India have not lost any of their three Tests at Wanderers... This line tells us more about the strength of the Indian Side!!! Just few hours away from starting the test match!! I would like to see how this team gonna perform well.. My XI:: Vijay, Dhawan, Pujara, Kohli, Rohit, Rahena, Dhoni, Ashwin, Zak, Ishanth, Shami!!!

  • Ind_Analyst on December 18, 2013, 6:05 GMT

    I actually think this team is almost the best India has. Maybe Gambhir instead of Vijay, but you have to give Vijay a fair chance. Hope Ashwin is able to do well in foreign pitches, else that will be a concern and may be will have to choose from Jadeja and Amit Mishra, though as an all rounder Ashwin is above both.

  • Dhoni_Gang on December 18, 2013, 5:56 GMT

    Dear SA fans remember that IND is playing in southafrica that to with young team. remember that this young team has chased 350 twice Vs Australia which is having a good bowling attack so every body is hero at home pitches.And IND has won the T20 world cup in SA and Champions trophy in England and won World cup twice but where is SA.

  • stormy16 on December 18, 2013, 5:52 GMT

    Fresh Wanderes wicket in early summer against Steyn and Vern is probably one of the worse case scenarios for a batter surely. India will be up against it that's for sure and unless they make an immediate impact, they could be chasing this game from day one. Interesting that Ishant is running ahead of Buwe who I think could be a real handful on helpful conditions. I dont Ishant knocking over SA with pace and bounce much like I dont see Tahir spinning India out. I would consider Buwe, particularly if India get to bowl first, his swing coule give an early advantage. I would certainly play the next pace bowler ahead of Tahir unless the wicket is dry which surely will not be the case.

  • on December 18, 2013, 5:52 GMT

    Dhoni must play Zaks,Sham I,Mesh & Ishant in the XI with Jaddu as spinner. SA batting is very strong and 5 bowlers is a must. Brave and bold captaincy from MSD is a must for this less experienced Test side to win overseas.

  • black_bird on December 18, 2013, 5:51 GMT

    India will finish this match within 3 days with inning victory. mark my word. i will search indian haters then. best of luck no.1 india.

  • Yousufahmed1 on December 18, 2013, 5:40 GMT

    @ ThilankaK Definition of LEGEND in Sri Lanka. Any batsman who has an average of 30 is a Legend of the game. LOL. Going by that definition every team in the world even ZIm and BAN has at least 5-6 LEGENDS in their team and top teams are carrying 8 LEGENDS every time they take the field. LOL.

  • on December 18, 2013, 5:35 GMT

    Dear Dhoni..do whatever you want to do...but plzzzzz do not select ISHANT in playing 11..he does not deserve to be even part of state ranji team....he is just plain lucky to be on tour...may be politics at play here...select any other player & I am even ready to accept big innings defeat in both matches but can not see ISHANT in India Team colours any more...he has been around for so long & still not able to deliver goods for India..kick him out.

  • sundersingh on December 18, 2013, 5:34 GMT

    if Indian bowlers not letting any SA player to score century, then it will be the huge victory for us.......... no matter what the scoreline is. another thing even ZIM and Bang are showing some fight.. so if u lose... lose with hard fight till the last moment..without giving innings win SA...

  • on December 18, 2013, 5:34 GMT

    I would prefer Umesh Yadav over Ishant given that he's not performed over the recent years to his potential. Best would for him his to go back to First Class cricket pick wickets & come with a bang, he may try signing with county team also because it will prove to be invaluable. I agree Umesh is expensive but his pace is high at 140-145 kph. He is less experienced but will definitely learn fast!

  • Albert_cambell on December 18, 2013, 5:28 GMT

    Thanks CSA for arranging this years home test series with India. Our players can finish the match inside 3 days and enjoy the rest of the two days. Our players also can improve their averages in this series.

  • Akash_23 on December 18, 2013, 5:27 GMT

    The way Ashwin has been toothless on the pitches not favoring him, I would say India should play with four pacers and Jadeja as a spin option.

  • anshul_tie on December 18, 2013, 5:27 GMT

    I dont think bhuvi will be a gud choice to play here.. Neither he has speed Nor he can bowl with old ball.. He is a bettr choice for just 10-15 overs with the new ball.. I think 4 bowlers will be sufficient.. And i have a suggestion that dhoni should play oh tendulkars place because he most experienced player now in this team so he must undrstand his responsibilities... He must do sumthing with bat here.. Gud captaincy does not worl completely here but a responsible game from captain side will work definitly.. i must say... Nd ravindra jadeja will.be a much better choice for india here.. Team should be... 1. Shikhar dhawan 2. Vijay 3. pujara 4. Dhoni 5. Kholi 6. Rohit 7. Jadeja 8. Ashwin 9. Zaheer 10. Shami 11. Ishant cumon boyzz show ur talent nd v all knw u can do it.. All d best of luck guyzzz.....

  • MetalKat on December 18, 2013, 5:16 GMT

    Dhoni, please...go with 5 bowlers. 1 Spinner and 4 Seamers. Please oh please.. This is not a sub continent wicket. An extra batsman will do no good. An extra bowler will surely come handy.. With the kind of batting line up SA have it is very difficult to get them out or even contain them.. Out bowlers will surely tire out and then if we have to rely on Kohli or Rohit's bowling then that would be really sad. And yes... Please play Umesh, Shami, Zaheer, Ishanth.. Bhuvi is too slow and once the ball stops to swing he has nothing in his arsenal..

  • veerang on December 18, 2013, 5:14 GMT

    ashwins batting abilities against fast bowlers on bouncy tracks are better then any current indian top order batsman.he is playing as bating allrounder.

  • on December 18, 2013, 4:56 GMT

    umesh yadav is must in wanderers infact zak ,yadav,sharma and shami 4 pacers and one spiner ashwin.and 6 batsmen because playing xtra batsman will not help they have to pick up 20 wickets to win test match

  • OttawaRocks on December 18, 2013, 4:55 GMT

    SA should win easy 2-0, both inside 3 days. If India shows improvement then SA wins 2-0 in 5 days. Another failure to prognosticate: Kallis will completely fail this series, both with bat and ball. By fail I mean Kallis will not get any centuries while batting and he'll get 2 wickets or less per match while bowling. At most I see Kallis getting one half century, that's it.

  • kbza86 on December 18, 2013, 4:47 GMT

    its a beautiful day here in jhb today...don't tell my boss that I faked sick to go watch a test match...Good luck to everybody....may the very best win...

  • Solid_Snake on December 18, 2013, 4:46 GMT

    Dhoni found another excuse...'Not enough practice' :P It's the only good that for India and Dhoni...This excuse would help players stay in the team

  • joseyesu on December 18, 2013, 4:28 GMT

    With SA batting order, anything less than 500 is not possible. Ashwin and Jadeja are key wicket takers and thier magic is not going to work out in SA. Anybody who is performing here going to retain his place for a long time. All the best

  • yoohoo on December 18, 2013, 4:20 GMT

    @Abdul Hameed - Are you thick? Don't you know the difference between tests, odis and t20s?

  • mahi678 on December 18, 2013, 4:15 GMT

    @lokesh, @jose puliampata, I dont understand the indian game of plan. you blame bowlers for team defeat; at the same time you wont provide enough support for them. why play only 4 bowlers? ashwin doing well with bat, jadeja can bat. why dont you choose 4 fast bowlers and one spinner(ashwin or jadeja). yes batting was failure then we should increase bowling strengh. what happens if bowlers need to bowl 3 days; they become ineffective or become injury prone. board, captain and even fans are treating bowlers like step mother. common you are expecting wonders from bowlers them -then give them support. 4 bowlers are enough when your bowlers are dictating terms, but need five otherwise.

  • on December 18, 2013, 4:07 GMT

    As an Indian fan, I am very ticked off and disappointed with BCCI for this awful schedule for a marquee series. No practice matches..just 2 tests and 3 ODIs..idiotic. I feel Zaheer, Ishant, Umesh, Shami should play for sure. Batting should be Rohit, Kohli, Rahane, Pujara, Dhawan, Dhoni. Jadeja is a better bet than Ashwin for bowling all rounder. I hope Dhoni is more aggressive in his overall approach including selection policy. I want the Indian team to play to win. Instead of being satisfied with less, due to foreign conditions.

  • on December 18, 2013, 4:04 GMT

    India should hardwork atleast to draw the match. because, we have poor bowling attack .Spin never work in their soil.

  • on December 18, 2013, 3:58 GMT

    I am going to say that if India plays with the above team, they will lose within the first three days.. India needs to play five bowlers.. Rahane cannot be a starter in this line up.. Ashwin has to play no.7. Dhoni needs to bat up at 6.. Umesh, Shami and Zak start.. The toss up should be between Kumar and Sharma.. Sharma needs to be your fourth fast bowler.. Otherwise we will be in so much trouble when Amla and Kallis get on the back foot and pound him through the off side like there's no tomorrow and there's little resource left for us to fall back on..

  • Fijicricket on December 18, 2013, 3:57 GMT

    @mzm149 on (December 17, 2013, 17:29 GMT) I would be surprised if India does get folded over under 49 in any of innings. Pakistan,s record 49 will not be broken for sure!

  • Anil_Koshy on December 18, 2013, 3:50 GMT

    Ashwin will prove ineffective, he is good only in India conditions, he record outside India is dismal, we should include Pragyan Ojha or Amit Mishra.

  • on December 18, 2013, 3:45 GMT

    Everytime in the recent past, visiting teams have been bowled for 40 odd runs atleast once. Australia and Pakistan were victims. For me if India avoids it, it will be the moment of the tour.

  • on December 18, 2013, 3:42 GMT

    Agree with codandchips. AB should never keep wickets for SA. He is the most talented batsman around and an excellent fielder and catcher. When you have talented keepers why risk AB?

  • AJMonis on December 18, 2013, 3:39 GMT

    As Indian population and the money they generate from cricket is more than all other test cricket playing countries combined together, India should only play in India; all other teams should come to India to play (except Pakistan, they beat us in our own backyard lol). In this way they always are in practice. Batsman will score centuries and not only spinners but fast bowlers will take wickets too in each T20, ODI or Test. What you say guys, isn't it a good and do able suggestion???

  • GRVJPR on December 18, 2013, 3:36 GMT

    Very poor advise from Rahul Dravid. With his defensive mindset how many he scored in South Africa. Indian batsmen should always be positive whatever be the quality of South african attack.

  • on December 18, 2013, 3:29 GMT

    There is no point of playing Ashwin in playing IX because he gives away too many runs. Jadeja can bat better than Ashwin and bowl with tight line. Overseas (AUS, SA, NZ, ENG) tours spinners job is to stop the runs and if they get wickets that's bonus. Playing Jadeja at number 7 gives Dhoni bit more opportunity. He is batting too low in the batting order and Ajinkya Rahane is a top order batsman not number 7. My Batting lineup would be 1 M Vijay, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Rohit Sharma, 6 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Umesh Yadav, 9 Ishant Sharma, 10 Zaheer Khan, 11 Mohammed Shami

  • tests_the_best on December 18, 2013, 3:27 GMT

    It's good to see fellow Indian fans being realistic and trying to give some time to the inexperienced side. Lot of comments from Ind fans echoing mine where it's felt that even drawing one test without rain intervention is being seen as some kind of success or even both being lost as long as there's some fight shown.

    After 4 tests in Aus, Kohli finally made a century in the last one. If 1 or 2 Ind batsmen manage a century or even decent half-centuries, that would do their confidence a world of good. Among bowlers, Shami/B Kumar could turn out to be revelations. Not much expected from Ashwin as these pitches won't suit him.

    The good thing for the side is that they are slated to tour NZ, Eng and Aus after this series and arguably this is the best bowling attack they are going to face amongst the 4 so this tour is going to be an invaluable experience.

    Tbh this tour is not so much about the result but more about finding players who can succeed overseas. Should be an interesting series.

  • Sandt on December 18, 2013, 3:21 GMT

    Yadav is a must in the team. He is good in test matches and can make problems for the batsmen. Where ishant will not be effective and do not count on one performance of his.He is the most useless and luckiest bowler in India in terms of getting frequent chances.

  • on December 18, 2013, 3:19 GMT

    @immi2711 , thanks for the observation and wishes. But the current situation and form Sehwag is, only one fear from him is his own teammates, that he does not get out on 1st ball. He was never big on technique, only thing going for him was hand-eye coordination, which I reckon with age and contact lenses is gone now. Dhawan, though not in same class, but if he can keeps his shots down on the ground can do little bit like him. Only way we can compete is if someone from the top can take the fight to SA (very difficult, but didn't Manzoor did it), make Steyn & co bowl 20+ oversa & tire them. We do not have bowling of Pak. Whatever we have to do is to do in batting and if it collapsed, I do not think I can watch any real action on weekend (will be over by then)

  • on December 18, 2013, 3:18 GMT

    Drop the spinners and go with all pace attack... Hope atleast one of them fire on a day .... 6 batsman incl MSD and 5 bowlers all pacers .... And hope for the best ..... If 6 batsmen cannot score, no way can ashwin or jadeja score against Saffers ....

  • on December 18, 2013, 3:13 GMT

    All the best to team India, thats all what i can say at the moment. SA test conditions are indeed testing. India lags behind in all 3 dept. India may play with 3 quicks who are not quick actually & 1 spinner who cant spin in these conditions & 7 batsman who have no experience to play on bouncy tracks. just all the best with crossed fingers.

  • on December 18, 2013, 3:05 GMT

    Let's put thing in perspective y'all. Indian batsmen don't do well outside India because the ball (just wait for it - bounces a tad more than in India - go figure!!!). The only chance India has of winning the Test Series is if SA pull off one of their old tricks - choking - which I don't think they will at home against a hapless India bowling attack. Sad to say from an Indian fan who wishes the BCCI members - who are probably too old to think forward - get fired and replaced by young blood who promotes bouncier tracks in India. Without that, India will never do well in any format of the game. Bah Humbug!!!@!

  • Alexk400 on December 18, 2013, 3:05 GMT

    We have not played the game yet , excuse started. Can u use ODIs as practice games as all the players play test.

    I play Ishant sharma , Yadav and Shami. Zaheer khan fitness question he may break down if india play with 3 fast bowlers because of enormous pressure

  • naleem8734 on December 18, 2013, 2:57 GMT

    wait and see how indian young batting line up going to face DANGOUROUS stayn, philander and morkal

    Remember AUS 47 NZ 45 PAK 49 IND??????

  • on December 18, 2013, 2:50 GMT

    never win for India without viru, gambhir

  • on December 18, 2013, 2:50 GMT

    Posted by MetalKat on (December 17, 2013, 15:58 GMT)

    Do you really think we have PACE Bowling Attack?? to go with 5 pacers?? Silly we think our bowlers are pacers with minimum speed! No way no way no, Look at SA , that is real pace, which we lack since we started playing cricket .

  • GRVJPR on December 18, 2013, 2:48 GMT

    There is a serious chink in the armour of this south african side, a lack of quality spinner. They might be number 1 in their home conditions but they are killing spin bowling. Even 1 spinner they have is imported from pakistan. Just goes to show that they don't want to see spinners becuase their bastmen are some of the worst against them. I remember Daryl Cullinan haiving no cluue against Shane Warne.

  • Great_Winners on December 18, 2013, 2:46 GMT

    I agree with Harry-s. I would let Zaheer go and keep Bhuvi, Umesh and Sami. And Rayudu instead of Rahane

  • couchpundit on December 18, 2013, 2:45 GMT

    This is where Virat Kohli's legacy in Test Cricket will be decided....He proved he is of different league in Perth, Lets see if he can confirm it in wanderers.

    Want to see the fighter in virat... As always it will be delight to see Steyn, Morkel and philander as a gang.

    For Indian Team Boys from Men will be spotted in next 2 tests...there is no place to hide and no where to run..well yeah may be in the 22 yard.....more they run in that 22 yard closer they will be to a victory or proud draw??!!!

  • anupkeni on December 18, 2013, 2:45 GMT

    One important thing missing in stats and trivia is that South Africa are yet to defeat India in a test match in Johannesburg. India had defeated South Africa by 123 runs in a test match in Johannesburg in 2006 and were two wickets away from a victory in 1997 when rain played spoilsport.

  • GRVJPR on December 18, 2013, 2:41 GMT

    At one time people are commenting that Steyn and Morkel are top 2 bowlers in Test Cricket, on the other hand they are asking Indian operners to play out session after session. If These youngsters play out session after session against steyn and morkel then both those bowlers should jump in well due to utter shame and inability to get the young batsmen out in theor own backyard on specially prepared exxtra spicy bouncy pitch. But hey South Africa, I haven't forget how you surrendered against Sree sant in 2006, and 2010. I clearly remeber 86 all out, 48/8, 70 all out. If anything this Indian teams has better pace options than previous teams who toured your country.

  • couchpundit on December 18, 2013, 2:40 GMT

    Indian bowlers should have intent...hopefully umesh is not picked...he said that he will concentrate on line and length instead of pace. What a waste another munaf in making!!

  • BangbangKohli on December 18, 2013, 2:32 GMT

    Come on India! lets go, good luck guys, you will bounce back!

  • Alexk400 on December 18, 2013, 2:30 GMT

    India should play ishant sharma. Not because he is better than b kumar any day of the year , but would like to see his LUCK theory favors india. It might. His wickets are always lucky wickets anyway. Baby brain bowling ...wickets has to be lucky. He hope quinton de cock luck touches him. :)

    I would not play zaheer khan either , he may get injured because he is old. Pressure makes him try harder and he gona get injured.

    One possibility for me is play 4 fast bowlers that keep zaheer fresh without too much pressure.

  • on December 18, 2013, 2:05 GMT

    india will loss 0-2...wanders pitch support pace....and steyen morkel philander wil crash indian batting line up..

  • on December 18, 2013, 1:55 GMT

    India should play 5 bowlers especially with the history of za k's breakdowns. Bat Ashwin at 4. That will relieve pressure on Kohli and Rohit. Zak, Shami, Ishant and Bhuvi can form the pace quartet.

  • D-Ascendant on December 18, 2013, 1:53 GMT

    India's only hope lies in the CSK clique (barring MSD) not being selected. That means dropping Ashwin and Vijay, and keeping Jadeja as far away from the team as possible.

  • Kolpak1989 on December 18, 2013, 1:52 GMT

    I haven't seen any of the one-dayers, but on paper this looks a very good Indian team to me. South Africa has a ton of batting with JP Duminy at 7. Their weekest links are their lack of a proper spinner (aint it always) and their opening pair.

  • Kover_Drive on December 18, 2013, 1:24 GMT

    As mentioned by Dhoni in his earlier interviews, top order batsmen should always pass the confidence to mid and lower order batsmen.

    Dhoni is a great strategist but his options are limited due to the rest of the team. He made two blunders from bowling first in the ODI series. India's chances for performing poor from batting first were low if the pitches seemed darn flat to him. SA is terrible at chasing high scores with very few exceptions from past.

    My test prediction: SA to 1-0 and 0 being from a wash-out.

  • Kover_Drive on December 18, 2013, 1:04 GMT

    @Harry-S, Do you even know how good Zaheer is with the new ball? Aging will not be an issue to certain an extend for his technique to left-handed batsmen.

  • on December 18, 2013, 0:45 GMT

    Don't agree with the heading,,India has played 2 complete and one half ODI before this series,,so why moaning about out of practice?? moreover, its BCCI choice to have curtailed tour so they can bask in the glory in Newzealand,,can't understand what the fuss about??

  • Guduji71 on December 18, 2013, 0:42 GMT

    In experienced Indian side low morale of bowlers, Indian batting only good at flat wickets. My expectation is both test matches lost with in four days each. India must prepare fair wickets to give exposure to their bowlers and batters. I think the criticism on Indian bowlers is unfair. They basically have no experience of bowling on fast bouncy wickets and they don't know how to take full advantage of the fast tracks. They get hammered on flat Indian wickets and loose their confidence. Indian batsmen are over rated check their records on bouncy wickets they are eye openers.

  • on December 18, 2013, 0:32 GMT

    This is my contribution; I can predict the outcome: With the excitement of a 2-0 one-day series victory and the sadness of an iconic figure departed, host-country South Africa can be in a mixed mood of jubilation and grieve as they ready to rumble with India in the first of two tests with the first one commences on Wednesday at Johannesburg. They whipped the visitors in the first two limited-over games in empathic fashion while the other schedule was rained out. The burial of former president Nelson Mandela on Sunday also made the cricketers a bit thoughtful. However, both teams have expressed confidence of starting off on a high note. South Africa perhaps will take the psychological advantage after their terrific performances in the just concluded one-day series. India's hopes of making an impact in the five-day version may diminish since their two-day tour match against a South Africa Invitational XI was badly affected by rain.

  • on December 18, 2013, 0:06 GMT

    hahaha good excuse of no practice before loosing the match..

  • OldCricketer on December 18, 2013, 0:02 GMT

    This match would be tough fight. I believe in India going with four pace bowlers and a spinner. The team batting has the talent to figure out the pace and bounce. If Dale Steyn fails to take quick wickets, India would be on top. This pitch is not that fast as rest of the pitches in South Africa. So, the home advantage factor of South Africa is reduced to minimum. Indian pacers do not need to do any thing special. Just bowl the right line and length as per the pitch. The wickets would follow.

  • ex-Srilankan on December 18, 2013, 0:02 GMT

    The fact that SA and India are not playing a minimum of 3 tests in the series is disappointing. Didn'the Indian Board know that a two-test series only hurts India, the visiting team? Having said that, here's another chance for India to change their reputation as underperformers when playing away. Many of India's critics on their overseas test performance are from Australia and England. However, with Australia not having won a away test series against one of the top sides (IMO, Aus, Eng, India and SA are the current top test sides) for awhile now, and with England possibly going down that same path (?), is anyone from those countries brave and unbiased enough to remind everyone about that? Anyways, here's India's chance to pass that title to one of the other top test sides.

  • jb633 on December 17, 2013, 23:30 GMT

    Good luck to India here I hope their young guns can stay grounded and remember that patience and a bit of grit is the key against the new ball in SA. If India can somehow lay the platform and lose only one or 2 wickets in the morning session I really feel they can go hard at Kallis and Tahir as the change up bowlers. I expect SA to win but I hope India put up a good showing because as a cricket fan I am getting sick of the home sides dominating to the extent that series are become boring and predictable. Good luck to both sides. No trash talk lets enjoy the cricket.

  • on December 17, 2013, 22:44 GMT

    India will face the worst defeat and their real face will be exposed....

  • on December 17, 2013, 22:27 GMT

    Common man....I HATE to see non performing Vijay opening. Am sure at the end of the series Ashwin will have a better batting average than him. Gambhir is probably our best bet at opening the innings along with Dhawan.

    Also, I would consider it as a 'good job' if Indian's don't loose by an innings and 'mission accomplished' if they manage a draw the tests.

  • abc3 on December 17, 2013, 22:17 GMT

    I wish Dhoni goes with 4 pacers. Shami, Zaheer, Yadav, Ishant/Bhuvi and include Jadeja as 7th batsmen and lone spinner. Dhoni can move upto 6. Leave Ashwin out. Or include Ashwin and trust him as 7th batsmen leaving Jadeja out. Ishant can bowl long spells and along with the spinner can share the load as workhorses while rotating the other three pacers Zaheer/Shami/Yadav in short bursts. This would be ideal than trying to be conservative and going with usual 7 + 1 + 3 combo. Dhoni/Fletcher - Are you listening. For once throw the typical Indian conservative mentality out of the window and think about being aggressive by going with this lineup.

  • on December 17, 2013, 21:29 GMT

    go india go.show them that we can win without seniors.

  • Testcricketistop on December 17, 2013, 21:19 GMT

    BigINDiafan.

    If SA can be seen as shaky away from home after having won 8 series away and drawing for series, then I will take that any time.

    Show me another team with that away record.

  • Number_5 on December 17, 2013, 21:19 GMT

    As a cricket fan very much looking fwd to this contest. Its hard not to feel robbed only seeing a 2 test series between the 2 top teams but hopefully we see some great cricket regardless. The challenge for India will be to show they can perform away from home and deserve their high ranking after some inept performances away from home recently. SAF look to be the form team which historically has caused them problems, but appear to have too much firepower at home on their own decks than India can cope with. My tip, SAF 2-0.

  • drnaveed on December 17, 2013, 21:17 GMT

    De Kock , after scoring 3 consecutive centuries against the touring Indian side , is really unlucky , not to find his name in the final eleven for the first test. his presence would have created pressure on the indians. i don't think smith ,petersen , kallis and imran will be able to create an impact here.

  • bhushanB on December 17, 2013, 21:09 GMT

    We bank on batting... thats our strength..... If you play to your strength, then at least you wont lose....

    If it truly is a world class batting, then we should be able to draw the series.. period...

  • Ranjit_sourav on December 17, 2013, 21:07 GMT

    Anyways all knew the end result, Indians are going to lose. What is the purpose of making an one sided test series, Perhaps send South Africa for a tour to Australia now, Everyone can see an eye catching test series with Steyn vs Johnson,Philander vs Harris and Amla vs Clarke. Eye catching is'nt it?.

  • GrindAR on December 17, 2013, 21:03 GMT

    As somebody pointed out. Fielding unit is the strenght of bowling unit. If the fielding is sloppy, thne bowling alos look sloppy, because hlf chances are not called after in the commentary. India's half chances conversion rate should be atleast 50% in order to compete with SAf. Because their half chances conversion rate is above 70%. So, fielders fine tune your reflexes and be vigilant. I would say, if you can meet or beat the 50% half chances conversion rate, the bowling unit will certainly look adequate to excellent. So, do blame yourself for not trying the half chances. They are certainly worth taking, and thats how other venomous pace bowlers create pressure on batsmen.

  • Ranjit_sourav on December 17, 2013, 21:01 GMT

    From my point Zaheer should play condiering South Africans batsman struggles against left arm seamers, take their last series vs pakistan, In those batting friendly wickets,Irfan and Junaid took almost 10 wickets in their 2 test matches. Also considering the weather and over cast condition Zaheer will defenitely gets his reverse swing going so as Shami.

  • truecric_fan on December 17, 2013, 20:59 GMT

    Suprised about Imran Tahirs inclusion because Indian Batsman will most likely dominate him. It also seems that the pitch will be more batting friendly so golden opportunity for India if they can hold their nerves.

  • GrindAR on December 17, 2013, 20:33 GMT

    All Indian top order has to do is, to keep their wickets in tact. In-fact, the scoring can be slow in SAf, it will help putting pressure on SAf to score fast in order for them to win. Their top oder do have patience, but Ind's top order seem to baffle about scoring rate. Wear out their pacers. SAf dont have the ability to do that because, Ind pacers are slightly better balanced in work load with the share of spinners. Just keep Morkel at bay, and rotate strikes with Steyn and Philander. If Ind manage to cross 400, then show their hitting... it will ensure a chance of a win. Faf, ABD and Petersen must be kept in check as they are run away trains. MSD please plan well for each of their batsmen on bowlers and fielding position choices. Batsmen do your home works to tackle Philander and Morkel and how to defend steyn. You never know, Tahir dismantled Pak. But he is not as lethal as that result suggested. But give him respect as long as you guys found his key.

  • on December 17, 2013, 20:28 GMT

    Bhuvi should be persisted with keeping in mind the experience he will gain plus he has always had the knack of getting breakthrough in the opening spell. Ishant has been given innumerable chances and still the unlucky bowler gets lucky enough to be given more!

  • AamirKhan-SuperStar on December 17, 2013, 20:27 GMT

    I guess its too much expecting from Zaheer, he is just coming back in team. But he has worked hard, looks really lean n fit, i even saw him tick 140 kph in Ranji. Hoping his presence will instill some sense in Ishant n Shami.

  • Rajesh_india_1990 on December 17, 2013, 20:18 GMT

    sorry southAfrica..u don't have the firepower to beat India ..

  • on December 17, 2013, 20:17 GMT

    As a Pakistan fan i m Looking forword to see Indian batsman vs Steyn, philander and morkal. It should be 5 tests match series between no 1 and no 2- Good luck to both the teams play tough cricket-

  • on December 17, 2013, 20:14 GMT

    our secret weapon is the over rate. We bowl at 4 overs an hour, we could even take the match into the third day

  • on December 17, 2013, 20:10 GMT

    In the last Year or so, SA has managed to win a Match within 4 days in almost every Series we played, Against England, Pakistan, NZ and Australia(Whilst Ricky Ponting was still playing), Which according to me most were far Better Sides than India is, and if your Ask me, The first Test against India will be over in 3 days, 4 at most in Favour of SA..

    Not that I undermine India but they Just don't have enough Bowling Material to take 20 Wickets in one Match in SA and they don't have Enough Batting Material to Survive 90 Overs in South Africa where Steyn and Morkel will be Bowling.. I will be more than glad to See them put up a fight, Stats does Indicate that almost every Team that Toured SA since last year has atleast made a Score of less than 100 in an innings.. Let's count the hours..

  • diehardINDIANcricketfan on December 17, 2013, 20:09 GMT

    A good partnership will be the deciding factor. Batting is our strength and keeping from playing short balls will be the key. should wait for the odd loose balls and leave anything which is going off. Best of luck India

  • on December 17, 2013, 20:08 GMT

    I was dreaming like India is defeated badly by Saffers and they are bringing back Sehwag for the NZ series, where he usually does well. I am a big fan of him and will be interested to see him come back to international cricket.

  • PACERONE on December 17, 2013, 20:06 GMT

    The two best teams in test cricket meet and they play a two match series.This is nonsense.Seems as if one team is afraid of been beaten badly or they do not want their players confidence completely shattered.

  • vrkp on December 17, 2013, 19:58 GMT

    @lokesh

    MSD was correct in blaming the bowlers here. They are improving but only slightly from each match. we bowled badly in 2nd and 3rd match also. The 2nd ODI was 230-240 run pitch as admitted by ABD but we gave away 280. Also in the 3rd match, we let them off the hook from 28-3 to reach 300 plus score. In India the bowlers have excuse of flat pitch etc but here in SA there is no such excuse.

    Hopefully with Zak around to give them advise and support, we may do better in tests.

  • on December 17, 2013, 19:57 GMT

    This is the wrong selection for India. Umesh Yadav is a must and he combined with Shami can provide teeth to Indian bowling. Perhaps Bhuvnesh needs to play too. If Zak has to play its in place of the spinner Ashwin.

  • vrkp on December 17, 2013, 19:53 GMT

    In 2006, no one gave us a chance but newcomer Sreeshant had other ideas. in the same way, it could be Shami's time to win it for India as long as we try to bat for 150-200 overs in each match.

    no one thinks our players will do well in the test. The fact that the players are under less pressure, it may actually work in their favour.

    regarding the playing XI, i would play 4 pacers and ashwin as the lone spinner and allrounder. We must play Zak,Shami and Umesh as a minimum. Knowing Dhoni, he will play Ishant instead of Bhuvi. But we shdn't go with just 4 bowlers only. I dont think Rahane can handle the SA bowlers. In that case, Jadeja would be a better choice than Rahane as both give similar performance while batting but Jadeja can offer more as a bowler.

    So, if MSD goes with 5 bowlers then he should either go with Zak, Shami and Yadav and 2 spinners or Zak, Shami, Yadav and Bhuvi and Ashwin.

  • vrkp on December 17, 2013, 19:45 GMT

    In 2006, no one gave us a chance but newcomer Sreeshant had other ideas. in the same way, it could be Shami's time to win it for India as long as we try to bat for 150-200 overs in each match.

    no one thinks our players will do well in the test. The fact that the players are under less pressure, it may actually work in their favour.

    regarding the playing XI, i would play 4 pacers and ashwin as the lone spinner and allrounder. We must play Zak,Shami and Umesh as a minimum. Knowing Dhoni, he will play Ishant instead of Bhuvi. But we shdn't go with just 4 bowlers only. I dont think Rahane can handle the SA bowlers. In that case, Jadeja would be a better choice than Rahane as both give similar performance while batting but Jadeja can offer more as a bowler.

    So, if MSD goes with 5 bowlers then he should either go with Zak, Shami and Yadav and 2 spinners or Zak, Shami, Yadav and Bhuvi and Ashwin.

  • kbza86 on December 17, 2013, 19:38 GMT

    SA has such a good bowling attack that there's no rest for the batsmen...you get a stern working over from Steyn and verny for a good 16 overs..from both ends...then, the mc announces a bowling change...Morne morkel for another 8 overs and kallis from the other end..can Indian batsmen survive that long at our wanderers??? if zak bowls well(which I seriously doubt) he has to get continuous support from the other end.. And also, SA rarely misfire in both departments..if the batsmen don't do well, the bowlers rip through oppositions

  • Ranjit_sourav on December 17, 2013, 19:36 GMT

    Everybody thinking on Batters and Bowlers.Nobody thinking on Indian slip fielders. First time After Dravid, Laxman era ,India has different players in slips for tests in overseas. Cant imagine, Ashwin(always stands at the edge of 30 yards circle in 1st slip even to Bhuvi) for Dravid, Kohli(Has a good average dropping atleast 2 catches in a match) for Laxman, Rohit(good fielder,havent seen him taking great catches) for Sehwag. SouthAfricans will be happy even though Indian seamers find edges consistently.

  • on December 17, 2013, 19:36 GMT

    Indians would be glad as Imran Tahir is playing. It will be respite from pace bowling. Tahir may be playing in career ending short series.

  • BigINDFan on December 17, 2013, 19:36 GMT

    @Dilan Fernando - SL is better than Ind but not that much more. SA does not your blessing since they are world No. 1. The day will come when Sanga, Mahela and Dilshan will retire and we will see how the young SL team comes off age.

    @Lokesh Ethirajan - MSD is saying he does not trust his batsmen so please bowlers save us :-)

    Ind cannot bat for 1.5 days since there is no Dravid or Laxman. However learning to leave the ball cleanly and only play balls that are below shoulder height will be good basics that will help them survive and score more than 200. Also MSD should send Ashwin up the order at No. 5. He has a good temperament and technique as a batsmen. A good knock will boost his confidence as a bowler.

    Fletcher should have a plan for each of SA's top 6 to restrict the runs.

    Currently every team seems to be dominant at home but shaky abroad including SA as seen in the UAE.

    Ind - losing is ok but if u win one match thats huge. Do not give up after Day 1

  • CodandChips on December 17, 2013, 19:35 GMT

    De Kock is an excellent young keeper-batsman with a good f/c average so should get a go, especially after his form and confidence in the ODIs. Much better than JP Duminy. Would also allow De Villiers to play as a batsman and excellent fielder, raising the general fielding standard of the team.

    1.Smith 2.Petersen 3.Amla 4.Kallis 5.AB de Villiers 6.Du Plessis 7.De Kock (wk) 8.Philander 9.Morkel 10.Steyn 11.Tahir-

  • Harry-S on December 17, 2013, 19:23 GMT

    India would be wrong to play Zaheer Khan ahead of Umesh Yadav. Zaheer is way past his best & far too old - he should have retired already.

  • on December 17, 2013, 19:02 GMT

    We want a Lively series and not one sided matches

  • on December 17, 2013, 18:59 GMT

    After seeing the results in ODIs still no experienced batsmen thats a surprise dhoni has to bring the old guns to guide the new lot.

  • bhushanB on December 17, 2013, 18:31 GMT

    Yep, IND win the Toss and bat for 1.5 days...does not matter how slow you bat.... Just spend time in the middle.. and the tide will definitely turn

  • on December 17, 2013, 18:27 GMT

    sateesh you r right dhoni wont let those players in the team with this team they can win in india but not in overseas conditions

  • on December 17, 2013, 18:26 GMT

    india r in real trouble .

  • on December 17, 2013, 18:25 GMT

    Hoping to see india lose this format as well.. they bring all the teams to india & wining matches at indian conditions.. but when they go to some other country they lose like hell.. this is what we wanted to see. Show your talents.. win this test if u dare. Come on south africa. God bless u all.

  • on December 17, 2013, 18:21 GMT

    I am not sure if I can entirely agree with Dhoni here. Barring the first ODI, I thought we did OK as a bowling unit considering the quality of the bowlers. But, batsmen were highly under-performing. Even in tests, batsmen should stay on the wicket for ~200 overs to compete with SA.

    >>"One of the most crucial things will be to bowl well. It will be very important to hit the right areas and try to hit the top of off stump."

  • on December 17, 2013, 18:19 GMT

    indian batsman should just look to bat atleast 1.5 days even if they are able to score at 2.00 rpo. This will tire down the SA batting and they might start making mistakes while batting if bowled simply with good line and lenght. Indian batsman should look to play out time kill the early swing. I think dhoni should send ashwin if the 5th wicket falls around 80 overs because a new ball will be taken and dhoni is suspect against swinging ball. Ashwin has the patience and ability to see-off the new-swing ball. The same has to be done by the openers. All the batsman should target tahir with no more than 3-4 rpo because hitting him for more will force smith to bring back the pace bowlers. I wouldnt mind if steyn-philander-morkel even bowl all maidens .....just try not fish outside off-stump. In the 1st odi, rohit sharma was beaten for 16 cons. balls by steyn.....i wudnt mind that in tests evn if he gets beaten for every ball....i wud advice indians to just wear SA bowlers down for 1.5 days.

  • on December 17, 2013, 18:14 GMT

    As long as Dhoni is in the team, India will miss the services of Sehwag , gambir, Bhajji and many others like Praveen , Irfan ..

  • on December 17, 2013, 18:05 GMT

    Thunderstorms expected everyday?Those involved in deciding tour fixtures should take care of weather patterns in advance.why ABD is keeping wickets when De kock is available as a specialist.Rahane should be kept out and Bhuvi included in the team.

  • on December 17, 2013, 18:01 GMT

    @ Gauri-Shankar Guha on (December 17, 2013, 16:14 GMT): Prof, you made the following consoling comment to the English Team, when they lost the Ashes to OZ.

    "On a "positive" note for England, the defeat margins are decreasing - 381, 218 and 150. This extrapolates to a narrow 19 run defeat in the 4th and a 97 run victory in the 5th test. Chin up guys."

    I tried to extent that logic for India when they are about to contest South Africa. But couldn't locate the 3rd, 4th & 5th attempts. Your point and the legendary King Bruce's learning from the spider gave me hopes; alas, the tussle between BCCI & CSA shattered those hopes!

  • ZkAneela on December 17, 2013, 17:46 GMT

    I just wanna see how kohli will play steyn..coz i am a steyn fan and there is so many who hyped kohli as the best batsman in the world.so let see how the indians hyped best batsman in the world plays the real best fast bowler of the world.

  • Rumy1 on December 17, 2013, 17:45 GMT

    Given that pace and bounce of SA pacers on lively tracks in their own backyard will need a lot of skills, technique, temperament, and experience to deal with, Wasim Jaffer should have been the first opener for the Johannesburg Test. Jaffer is easily the best Test opener in India - even today and perhaps one of the three best Test batsmen actively playing in India. Hope selectors are listening.Steyn, Philander, Morkel will eat Vijay in first session itself. Johannesburg is the fastest track in SA and not sure if Kohli or Rahane have the technique to survive Steyn, Philander and Morkel at Wanderers. At the moment only Pujara and Rohit seem to be adept to handle SA pacers.Also, I believe Ashwin will be a big flop in the Tests in SA. Likes of Amla, Devilliers and Kallis will dominate Ashwin's average skills.Sadly there won't be supporting dusty tracks of home to bail him out there.Bhajji should have been there in SA for Tests but could Bhajji be in with Dhoni at the helms??Point to ponder

  • kbza86 on December 17, 2013, 17:45 GMT

    PROTEA POWER + MADIBA MAGIC= DEMOLITION JOB SA athletes are ruthless under madiba magic... firstly, Proteas are soo settled its scarry. the test matches in UAE against pak proved that even more...khurram mansoor scored 140 odd in the first innings, he blew kisses at dale Steyn and very disrespectful towards verny with his strokes..his next scores?? 0, 0, 0...my point is be very careful with what you say in the media etc. 2nd, if zak doesn't fire, shami doesn't have enough stamina to keep sa batting at bay alone..I see India leaking plenty

  • SurlyCynic on December 17, 2013, 17:41 GMT

    Surely Alviro Peterson's form is also worth a mention? Given that Kallis also bowls I would say Alviro is also in need of a good series.

  • bhushanB on December 17, 2013, 17:39 GMT

    Funny that someone was mentioning that the openers should bat 15 overs..... Please realize this is not ODI cricket... they should aim for at least one session......

    But I guess looking at how the IND batsmen played in the ODIs.. may be 15 overs is not such a simple task

  • bhushanB on December 17, 2013, 17:36 GMT

    To draw.... you need someone who can play a long innings..... by long I mean bat a day out... that is over 90 overs in the middle...

    If the batsmen play they batted in the ODIs... the whole team may not last 90 overs....

    If only the batsmen can play 100 overs each innings... then IND can think of avoiding a defeat..

    100+ overs and 350+ in the first innings is the MINIMUM REQUIREMENT for batsmen to put any kind of fight... something they could not do in ENG and AUS.....

    otherwise they both will finish on the third day -- or 4th if weather intervenes...

  • bhushanB on December 17, 2013, 17:31 GMT

    Players I am dying see how they live up to the challenge.....(if given a chance)

    Pujara Rahane Ojha Bhuvi (ofcorse can't play along side Zaheer..similar skill set.. not much swing on offer...dropped in ODIs is a clear indication of where he is in Dhoni's eyes and plans)

    Others that i invoke interest Dhawan Zaheer

    Can't play together Ashwin - Jadeja... pick ONLY ONE plzzzzz Umesh - Ishant.... pick ONLY ONE plzzzzzz

    Do not really worry about these... as they will be retained/come back no matter what...for reasons widely known Rohit Jadeja Ashwin Ishant

  • on December 17, 2013, 17:30 GMT

    How is the indian side still out of practise. Havent they got an oppurtunity to play 2 and half matches now. Thats more than pakistan played or for that matter any team plays before touring any foreign country. I dont think out of practise is an excuse any more. Its just become a means of fans to describe the failings and shortcommings of their own team in conditions they struggle in.

  • mzm149 on December 17, 2013, 17:29 GMT

    I would be surprised if India doesn't get folded out under 100 in any of innings.

  • entryholedia on December 17, 2013, 17:27 GMT

    lets hope India repeats the performance of the last South Africa Trip when Ganguly made a come back and Sreesanth simply blew off the proteas . I still remember the Proteas were 48 for 8 after India made 251 or so and ganguly made a fighting 51 or so !

  • on December 17, 2013, 17:23 GMT

    two test matches between the world numbers one and two? it's a disgrace, partially caused by the declining income from test cricket (expect for the ashes) but also because, as with a supreme heavyweight champion, there are no contenders to take on south africa. england are running scared for a start. so thank you, india, for coming and giving south africans a chance to see your magnificent batsmen.

  • on December 17, 2013, 17:23 GMT

    Unexprienced bowling lineup which cost them to lose series

  • on December 17, 2013, 17:15 GMT

    One-on-one predictions are quite meaningless, and good only for the script writers of Ad agencies, who are commissioned to spice up the series. It is XI Vs XI.

    It's more interesting to see how the relatively young Indian team is going to fare against a formidable team like South Africa. I am mentally prepared for India losing to SA, even 2-nil; but would be delighted if I could see the fight the young Indians put up. If they draw both it's good; win one it's great; win both it's manna from heaven!

    This Indian team has the core for the future, and an early opportunity to hone up their skills (both cricketing & mental), against SA is what I am looking for. The current Indian selectors are not short sighted; and have a mission & vision for the future. I wish the "new breed" selectors and their chosen team for the future, all the success. If corrections are needed, these selectors are capable of factoring those, into the mix, while making the next moves.

  • i_comment on December 17, 2013, 17:11 GMT

    looking at the footwork of Murali vijay i doubt he shall make it to the double digits. and coming to the bowlers i guess ohja will do a much better work than Ashwin as his ball carries bounce in this conditions.

  • on December 17, 2013, 17:09 GMT

    Jadeja is a very effective bowler. He is not an all rounder. I agree he his bowling is largely ineffective outside of India. Yusuf Pathan would be a better choice, considering he is a far better batsman. But Jadeja is Dhoni's favourite. He will always be ib the team, no matter how badly he performs.

  • itsthewayuplay on December 17, 2013, 17:01 GMT

    Whilst India has some talented batmenwho may have had some experience of SA conditions in first or less senior teams, it will count for very little against the likes of Steyn, Philander and Morkel. More than the batting, the bowlers are a concern after promising starts to their careers and realsitcally no-one can expect much from Kumar, Yadav, Sharma etc. Everything depends on Zaheer and he's returning after a long-time out. Doesn't matter how you build it up, it looks like a serious thrashing resultwise for India. For this two test trip to not be a total waste of time, the younger and / or inexperienced players must use this opportunity to learn and develop their game. So that means time in the middle for the batsmen and bowlers making sure they hit line and length ball after ball.

  • on December 17, 2013, 16:58 GMT

    @anupam9992 - please check Ashwin's bat performace in India's recent tour of Australia... and compare with sach,laxman,dhoni's runs scored in that series.....

  • skccochin on December 17, 2013, 16:58 GMT

    Its really funny that India is having a selection dilemma in picking 3 pace bowlers out of 5. You can't predict who are the 3 will be playing eventhough India's major worry is their pace bowling department . So, its not a usual 'healthy' competition, funny fact!

  • batman_gothamcity on December 17, 2013, 16:57 GMT

    At the outset it looks a 2-0 whitewash , but India if they can do some basic rights can make a difference like - 1)Openers to play out atleast 15 overs even if they score less , this will make life comfortable for middle order ,2) dont be too adventerous in bowling just try to bowl line and length and mistakes will come from SA batting . 3) Team selection should be based on pitch and conditions , common sense will tell that both Jadega /Ashwin cannot be selected Bhuvi , Zaheer , Shami and Umesh/Ishant should be selected . SA are only team who have performed well both home and away in recent times . All the Best to both teams . -

  • bhushanB on December 17, 2013, 16:54 GMT

    Ashwin can't play at 4, but if nurtured well.. can bat at 7, as a true alrounder....

    He plays on the backfoot, similar to VVS, looks elegant against short balls (as they are old and wont bounce as much as they do in the first 25)..

    So he should be able to bat well in AUS, where there is bounce, but not much Swing....

    For that to happen Rohit, if he has the technique should open... replacing one of Vijay/Dhawan.....

    In that case the team can be

    Rohit Dhawan (/Vijay) Pujara Rahane Kohli Dhoni Ashwin (/Jadeja, if he can bat with confidence and be the alrounder) Zaheer (/Bhuvi to replace soon) Shami Yadav (/Ishant if the can back his pace and control or someone new who is express) Ojha/Mishra (or any specialist spinner)

  • on December 17, 2013, 16:53 GMT

    Go Team India Go, and give the SA a run for their Money....

  • on December 17, 2013, 16:48 GMT

    what practice?? Are they international players or not?? please dont give reason when players are not in form.. Everyone are under performing when it comes to playing abroad..

  • viru-319-219 on December 17, 2013, 16:47 GMT

    Come on Guys .... Going in with 4 pacers doesn't make any difference. Indian team doesn't have any pacer who deserves to be in the team but instead is a 12th man. We are already thinking who is better among Bhuvi,Ishant and Umesh. You can't leave out a batsman and play an average bowler, It is like suicide. If you are playing an extra pacer you should be sure that he will be effective and just question urself 'Do we really have such pacer on sidelines' and the answer will be a big Nooooo. And to all guys asking what difference an extra batsman can make if top 5 fail, Really is that even a question to ask. Every batsman can make a difference in tests and every run counts. Example : Partnership between Haddin and Jhonson in 1st innings of 1st Ashes test. For me that was match winning partner ship which took Aus score to respectability and avoided a collapse under 150 and If a partnership with bowler can make such difference a 100 from Rahane would make even big difference right!!!!!!

  • on December 17, 2013, 16:47 GMT

    Have never understood the history behind Indian teams not getting enough preparatory games on major overseas tours to get used to local conditions.

  • amilag on December 17, 2013, 16:44 GMT

    India should at least try to drag the match to the third day and score more than hundred in each pf two innings. That would be a fantastic achievement! Go team India Go....

  • bhushanB on December 17, 2013, 16:43 GMT

    @srinideva Totally agree with you....

    Ind batsmen need to apply themselves... and play themselves in..

    There are going to be those jaffas, those unplayables, those scorching bouncers, those teasing and beating lines outside of off stump........but they should realize that the new ball is going to be hard for only the first hour or so... If they hold their ground for the first 40 balls they face.. every batsmen will get their chance to showcase their skill, aggression

  • CodandChips on December 17, 2013, 16:41 GMT

    I reckon 1-1. I think India may just pinch a match.

    For South Africa, I'd go: 1.Smith 2.Petersen 3.Amla 4.Kallis 5.AB de Villiers 6.Du Plessis 7.De Kock (wk) 8.Philander 9.Morkel 10.Steyn 11.Tahir- De Kock is an excellent young keeper-batsman with a good f/c average so should get a go, especially after the ODIs.

    For India: 1.Vijay 2.Dhawan 3.Pujara 4.Rahane 5.Sharma 6.Kohli 7.Dhoni 8.Jadeja 9.Kumar 10.Shami 11.Yadav - you don't need Zaheer. Ahswin requires turn where as Jadeja bowls well on any surface and never turns it. If I was Indian I would only be worried about Kohli's batting and Dhoni's keeping.

  • on December 17, 2013, 16:40 GMT

    Ashwin should replace Sachin at No. 4 !! Dhawan, Vijay, Pujara, Ashwin, Kohli, Dhoni, Rohit, Zaheer, Ishant, Shami, Yadav !! If you want to get 20 wickets, got for 4 pacers !! #IndVsSA Anyone with same thinking?

  • bhushanB on December 17, 2013, 16:38 GMT

    @anupam9992

    Yes, I dread that every second... until the final X1 is announced.. I guess at the Toss.....

    And then will follow the usual routine.. huff nd puff... smoke coming off the nose and years... can't really shout as it will be 3 AM in the east coast... may be do few pushups... get on cricinfo.. and type all that comes to my mind... curse Dhoni.... curse petty politics... curse those favs ones picked to fail miserably.... root for the single or two players that I truly believe deserve their place in the squad to perform.....

    Actually Cricinfo comments section is the one place to dump all my anger, disappointment, anguish....

    an hour later... once I realize that there is not a thing I can do...brace myself.. and become a good IND cricket fan.. and support all the playing X1 and back the team to show good fight...

    That has been the story for the last 2+ years, since that dreaded ENG series.

  • viru-319-219 on December 17, 2013, 16:34 GMT

    @sixesandfours ........ Jadeja is nothing more than a walking wicket when facing quality bowling. He can hit couple of sixes against quality bowling but is not capable of playing it with confidence and he is beaten by pace of AUS bowlers in last series and thats not a good sign for test all rounder. Yes he is a useful T20 allrounder. His bowling is not as effective as on Indian surfaces and will posses no threat to SA batsman. So to be honest he outside India in tests is not useful but useless allrounder and India can't afford that while playing in SA facing world's best bowling attack. Rahane on other hand deserves his chance in playing XI with superb domestic numbers.

  • on December 17, 2013, 16:31 GMT

    Go boys, play hard and give SA a strong challenge. Winning and losing doesn't matter, play aggressively and don't surrender even if we lose. All the best

  • SamRoy on December 17, 2013, 16:29 GMT

    no ishant please. play vijay, dhawan, pujara, kohli, rohit, dhoni, ashwin, bhuvi, zak, shami, umesh in 1st test. play jadeja in place of bhuvi in durban.

  • ThilankaK on December 17, 2013, 16:29 GMT

    Lets see team comparison ; 1. Smith Vs Vijay = Smith++ 2. Petersen Vs Dhawan = Petersen 3. Amla Vs Pujara = Amla 4. Kallis Vs Kohli = Kallis 5. De Villiers Vs Rohit = De Villiers 6 Du Plessis Vs Rahane = Du Plessis 7. Duminy Vs Dhoni = Duminy 8. Philander Vs Ashwin = Philander 9. Steyn Vs Sharma = Steyn 10. Morkel Vs Zaheer = Morkel 11. Tahir Vs Mohammed = both equal Hence result will be ; SA vs IND = 2 - 0 ( both innings defeat )

  • kbza86 on December 17, 2013, 16:28 GMT

    18:23 in jhb and it is absolutely pouring!!! almost monsoon style...which is not a bad thing..if it persists this way then the worst will be pass us by late evening..I'm guessing it will stop completely by 2am....wanderers is renowned for its immaculate drainage system so I'm seeing a start on time...

  • loks07 on December 17, 2013, 16:28 GMT

    I still hope against hope Ishant doesn't play till he achieves something substantial in domestic cricket. Also if Rohit can make way for Jadeja, the latter can bat as worse as his replacement but can be highly useful with breaking any partnership with his accurate bowling or some brilliance in fielding. Remember Jadeja's contribution in Aussie 4-0, although at home. But you never know even on foreign soil he may be as effective with his just enough subtle deviations.

  • anupam9992 on December 17, 2013, 16:19 GMT

    ahhhhh!!!!! brace urselves guys, u will see jaddu in tomrws squad, u won't find Rayudu or rahane,,,,even bhuvi won't have a spot, count on ishant,dhoni asusual sticks with HIS guys,,,people are calling ashwin an allrounder, but these ain't flat pitches, and this ain't India, wanna see if there will be any injuries in this series

  • on December 17, 2013, 16:17 GMT

    Why are you claiming that India are Out-of-practice? They're coming off the WI tests and they've played tests more recently than the Saffers...So don't understand the out of practice bit. Perspective please!

  • on December 17, 2013, 16:15 GMT

    People here are talking about Umesh as if he is a Mitch Johnson bowling 150+. He bowls in the low 140s and without control over line and length, he will get hammered at the Wanderers which is a high scoring ground. The XI mentioned in this article is the best for this match.

  • StatisticsRocks on December 17, 2013, 16:14 GMT

    For the first time after a long long time, our batting lineup looks so inexperienced and youthful. They will have a tough time against the world class attack in Steyn, and Morkel. It's a great learning experience for these Indian batsmen and I hope they show some temparament and fighting spirit. Kallis and Amla will make merry of the poor Indian bowling. I dont see how, barring a miracle, India can beat SA in tests. I wish we had played 5 tests just to get more experience. My only advise as a fan to our team, dont be afraid of being whitewashed, just play to your potential. Based on the recent years performance, every team looks almost unbeatable at home and vulnerable away. Theer are 3 types of conditions, Fast and bouncy like in AUS, Swinging conditions like in ENG, and spin friendly wickets like in the sub continent. There is not one team who can dominate in all 3 conditions, unlike the WI of the 80's / 90's did.

  • on December 17, 2013, 16:13 GMT

    hope for a good series,this Indian team has some very talented young batsmen,let see what they can do in these conditions.

  • MCC_Tie on December 17, 2013, 16:09 GMT

    If SA get runs on the board, India will struggle against the attacking and far superior bowling attack of the hosts. Here's to a great game, may the best team win.

  • nainil0683 on December 17, 2013, 16:04 GMT

    I just hope Indians make South Africa bat twice

  • on December 17, 2013, 16:04 GMT

    where is Quinton DeKock..Jus remove tat alviro petersen & bring DeKock..for around 10 innings petersen has nt scored above 30..or giv Dean Elgar more chances..also Players Like Stephen Cook ,Rilee Rossouw,Stiaan Van Zyl,etc like players.plz

  • MetalKat on December 17, 2013, 15:58 GMT

    Come on India.. I really think we should go with 4 seamers. There is no point in going for an extra batsman. Very sad to see the (likely) team not have Umesh Yadav's mention. If the top 5 batsmen (Vijay,Dhawan,Pujara,Kohli,Rohit) cannot do it for India, then Rahane alone cannot make much of a difference. Instead go with pace. Surprise the Proteas and answer pace with pace... We should give ourselves a good chance and give us as many bowling options as possible.. We should go with 5 batsmen, 5 bowlers and 1 Dhoni..Game on !!

  • on December 17, 2013, 15:58 GMT

    plz MSD play rohit as opener,and play rahana at no.4. Kohli at no.play jadaja as all rounder at no.7.(or) play ojha as spin bowler and ash-win as all rounder."play one left arm spinner south Africa batsmen are weak playing left arm spinners in test matches in any conditions"recent series in uae baber had struggled the south African batsman.

  • sixesandfours on December 17, 2013, 15:56 GMT

    @Roy: You are absolutely spot on. I think India should consider Jadeja instead of Rahane as Jadeja is useful allrounder india had, this would be the ideal Playing XI for India - 1. Shikhar 2. Murali 3. Cheteswar 4. Mahendra 5. Virat 6. Sharma 7. Jadeja 8. Zaheer 9. Ishant 10. Shami 11. Yadav. All the best to both the teams. God Bless!!!

  • jr_2658 on December 17, 2013, 15:50 GMT

    I see this article as part of SA's mind game. Yes India lost in ODI's badly but that doesn't mean its end of road. Lets see how India performs in test-day1 then these kind of articles can be written-period.

  • on December 17, 2013, 15:50 GMT

    Its My Genuine Real side of South Africa tour..Pls be consider BCCI & my mate..

    Vijay, Dhawan, Pujara, Kohli, Rohit, Dhoni, Jadeja, Ashwin, Zaheer, Varun aaron, Shammi Ahmed..... are my playing 11... rest of the squad members are... Dinesh karthick, Umesh yadav, Rishi dhawan and rahane.

  • kbza86 on December 17, 2013, 15:46 GMT

    @ 1ofakind_testcricket: o stay 17km from the wanderers.. It has been really hot and sticky here past 3 days or so...as I type, it is 17:39 here in jhb and its a bit grey outside...there's a northeastery meaning this cloud cover will intensify and an evening shower...if it keeps blowing than it will definitely blow over..I see a full 3, 5 sessions without doubt(according to me who has lived here for 28 years).ill keep you updated if there's changes I promise!!!!

  • bhushanB on December 17, 2013, 15:45 GMT

    My X1 (highly unlikely....yet dreaming)

    1.) Dhawan --Do not try to emulate Shewag...at least not in SA 2.) Vijay -- do not like him..but he has done nothing wrong ...nothing yet 3.) Pujara -- Run machine with utmost patience... need to be more compact like Dravid.... TRUE TEST 4.) Rahane -- Deserves his chances after Sachin's retirement.. Its now or never, do or die 5.) Kohli -- Channel your aggression to score runs.. develop patience when in crease 6.) Rohit -- Hated the strong favoritism shown to him... time to prove whether its worth 7.) Dhoni -- Need better wicket keeping and no favoritism plzz...rest is awesome 8.) Zaheer -- Needs strong comeback...pass on legacy to Bhuvi 9.) Shami -- Be patient.. this is test cricket 10.) Ojha -- the only specialist spinner..who can just focus on the single skillset 11.) Yadav -- Bowl fast and rattle the opposition

  • kbza86 on December 17, 2013, 15:43 GMT

    @ 1ofakind_testcricket: o stay 17km from the wanderers.. It has been really hot and sticky here past 3 days or so...as I type, it is 17:39 here in jhb and its a bit grey outside...there's a northeastery meaning this cloud cover will intensify and an evening shower...if it keeps blowing than it will definitely blow over..I see a full 3, 5 sessions without doubt(according to me who has lived here for 28 years).ill keep you updated if there's changes I promise!!!!

  • bhushanB on December 17, 2013, 15:39 GMT

    My X1 (highly unlikely....but I like standing up to my belief and betting against the odds)

    1.) Dhawan 2.) Vijay 3.) Pujara 4.) Rahane 5.) Kohli 6.) Rohit 7.) Dhoni 8.) Zaheer 9.) Shami 10.) Ojha 11.) Yadav

  • on December 17, 2013, 15:37 GMT

    Being a sa fan I don't see any problem with kallis.he has nothing to prove.i think this is the best xi.i hope sa will win the match.I am not sure why jeeves say this is the last home series of kallis?

  • on December 17, 2013, 15:35 GMT

    they have to include jadeja he is a way better test spinner than an odi spinner. It would be really disappointing if they did not.Rahane has been given way too many opportunities to prove himself. he just does nkt have the confidence to perform in international matches. I would go with jadeja ahead of rahane. He will get you wickets and score with the bat.

  • jimwhatever on December 17, 2013, 15:34 GMT

    we are all going to watch how much a useless cricketer is vijay especially in overseas conditions

  • SL_BiggestJoke on December 17, 2013, 15:30 GMT

    Think it will be 2-0 to South Africa.. but crucially a much wanted experience outing for the new look Indian test team.. just give it a fight boys... no pressure :)

  • bhushanB on December 17, 2013, 15:28 GMT

    If Dhoni plays Jadeja ahead of Rahane......

    That too in SA, where batsmen have failed miserably in ODIs... where No.4 usually faces the opening spell....

    THEN Rahane may as well retire from Intl cricket

  • Nandu_Athadu on December 17, 2013, 15:28 GMT

    I am not expecting a win from India or even a Draw..IF they win or even drew this series it is a great thing..BTW I am Indian..Yes India has strong batting unit on paper but it doesnt matter when you are on the field..This batting unit is strong mentally, technically good but lacks experience which I need them to learn in this tour..Personally I need to see how Kohli and Pujara or even Rohit handle Steyn. Philander and Morkel and Kallis too on these fast pitches...even greatest test teams failed to stand in front of this super bowling unit..no shame in getting out to these kind of bowlers on a bowling paradise...on the bowling side..I am looking for Shami and Bhuvi to perform..and curious about the return of our one of the our best bowler Zaheer..GO young lads..earn experience on how to play quality fast bowling and this will be useful in the coming tours of NZ and ENG..All the best Team India.

  • bhushanB on December 17, 2013, 15:26 GMT

    Will be utterly disappointed if Rahane is not played.....He has been waiting for ages for that No.4 spot... Do not understand.. how they moved Kohli to 4, Rohit to 5...

    This is not elementary school.. where the topper automatically becomes class Leader... and the new one to come sits on the last bench...

    Rahane is a proper middle order batsmen.. or thats what they said.. when he was sidelined.. so give him his position...

    If he got the skill.. he should use these chances.... Ofcorse he may be in the middle well before he likes....

    Rohit has shown that he can rotate the strike... so let him settle in the No.6

  • Krisis85 on December 17, 2013, 15:25 GMT

    @1ofakind_testcricket - Regarding local weather, Johannesburg has had an almost routinely predictable weather pattern all summer - it's mostly sunny in the morning, then the clouds start gathering in the afternoon, and around 4pm local time a vigorous and intense thunderstorm starts strutting it's stuff to cool us down and wake us up, sometimes for only an hour or so, but sometimes through the night. The routine has deviated occasionally: the storm isn't always punctual and has been known to report for duty only around 5pm, once or twice it failed to materialize, and then unfortunately occasionally it does rain during the day... but generally rain holding off til late afternoon is what you can expect, so yup, play might be disturbed slightly, but probably not too much. (Mind you I'm no weather buff.) I do hope the routine continues for the sake of the cricket :) Good luck India and especially South Africa!

  • spot_on on December 17, 2013, 15:24 GMT

    I wouldn't worry even if this Indian team fails.. Their top six haven't played more than 20 tests. The so called Saffa bowlers DESTROYING this Indian line up means nothing to me. Indian test team is still in transition.

  • Solid_Snake on December 17, 2013, 15:13 GMT

    Even if Indian team gets 100 match practice,result would be the same...Another Whitewash for India :) But not enough practice is a great excuse for Dhoni..So he should be happy for that :)

  • LahorePak on December 17, 2013, 15:10 GMT

    I will never ever right off Indians in the series, I am a die hard fan of Pakistan, but love watching Indians play, cuz, boy they can put the fight, and turn it all around. AGAIN, would have love to see at least 3 matches. if not 5.

  • immi2711 on December 17, 2013, 15:01 GMT

    Just an Observer from Pakistan .... India so desperately needs Sehwag....He has the ability to do one thing that none of the current players do up on top, and that is to scare the bowlers. If Sehwag gets in a groove, you can forget about Steyn, Morkel, and anyone else. Bowlers just forget there line/length when Sehwag gets going. and thats what India needs someone to scare SA bowlers, right of the bat. Damn I wish Sehwag was playing...

  • srinideva on December 17, 2013, 14:58 GMT

    Too much of negativity on Indian team. They have the talent to succeed in SA. Indian batsman just need to use their brain. No need to attack Steyn in his initial overs. He is too good bowler for right handers. So Vijay must watch out for something special tomorrow. Dhawan is not a Sehwag and I don`t want any more of sehwag type player in our team. FINALLY, Please don`t pull all the short deliveries just to show you`re better in that stuff. Indian openers have bigger role to play than anyone. they have to give the confidence to the middle order that this can be done. Come on guys, we`re waiting. show some man stuff.

  • maheshkumar.de on December 17, 2013, 14:55 GMT

    I think Dinesh karthik would have been very useful here. He is a decent batsmen who can open or bat in the middle order. He has shown in the past that he can play well outside sub continent. He would have added some experience to this inexperienced team. Plus with him in team, dhoni could have bowled a few seam up overs which are good in such conditions. we do not have any proper part time bowler (no raina, Yuvraj, no jadeja) in this squad. Rohit and Kohli can roll their arms but none of them is a test level part time bowler especially outside subconti. I would have surely liked DK in the squad for this tour. Anyway if Mruli Vijay fails in this series, Karthik should be considered for NZ, and Eng tour.

  • Ranjit_sourav on December 17, 2013, 14:48 GMT

    As an Indian,Really I am not looking for a win from our young guns, Need atleast a fight before losing to the likes of Steyn,Morkel and co. As we all witnessed now in the current Ashes, Home is Home for every one. It was just months before England trounced Aussies at England and now getting their own medicine here in Australia. So I am not concerned about an 2-0 defeat here for Indians, but Need to see some gutsy performances from Kohli,Rohit,Dhawan and co and a 5 for , for Shami,Khan and co.Go Indians.

  • C.A-SA1987 on December 17, 2013, 14:47 GMT

    As a loyal South African fan, I assume nothing. Test Cricket is funny old game, and anyone who makes pre-series predictions is either bold or foolish.

    I'm hoping for a solid performance from our boys, with wins in both tests. However I am mindful that things don't always go according to plan.

    All the best to both teams!

  • Jeeves_ on December 17, 2013, 14:44 GMT

    Kallis's last home series? A fitting tribute to the great man. Regarding deVilliers as keeper, only a matter of time before Quinton de Kock. Now onto Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy. I think a key series on both of their careers. Both started explosively and then withered away. Both obviously have the capacity for test cricket. However, if either is unsuccessful in this series, I wonder if it will be the end, with Quinton de Kock coming in.

  • on December 17, 2013, 14:40 GMT

    many here are perdicting that it will be a battle between IND batsmen and SA bowlers but SA has a very strong batting line up too and in these conditions they might be better than the IND batting line up... SA with a strong batting lineup and a better bowling attack and feilding side should win the match if rain doesn't cost too much time.....

  • on December 17, 2013, 14:39 GMT

    i dont think there is chance of rahane in playing 11 although he is very good batsman.Dhoni will take either jadeja or ojha.he is very unlucky at this time bz of already packed batsman

  • on December 17, 2013, 14:37 GMT

    I have 2 playing xi 1)rohit dharma,dhawan,pujara,kohli,dhoni,jadeja,ashwin,Zak,umesh,ishant,sham I or 1)vijay/rahane,dhawan,pujara,kohli,rohit,dhoni,ashwin,jadeja,umesh,Zak,shami ..personally I will prefer 2 because we all know what ishant did last time n in Australia.. He was biggest flop on seaming pitches..vijay and ishant gonna b big flop..better India play with umesh and rahane because both are match winners specially umesh yadav..he will be our trump card..

  • A-funny-game on December 17, 2013, 14:29 GMT

    For me india will easily lose this series 2-0 if rain stays away.i think if we have 450 overs in 5 days it should be enough for protease to finish the game.No doubt south africa is world best team in test cricket.I think if alviro doesnt perform in this series(1st game)south africa should replace him with de cock.Good luck to india.south africa in any case will bat first i believe.

  • Nampally on December 17, 2013, 14:18 GMT

    SA is better equipped both in bowling & batting than the Indian XI. SA has 4 pacers + at least 2 spinners in Duminy & Tahir with Peiterson a third. India has just 3 pacers + 1 spinner. One additional bowler like Jadeja or Yadev was needed at the expense of Rahane. ndia playing with 6 specialist batsmen have weakened their already limited bowling. As for the Indian batting, Vijay & Pujara are playing for the first time in the middle. They have to play themselves IN by understanding the pace of the pitch & getting used to the bowlers. Balls outside the off & away swingers need to be left well alone. This is what the SA bowlers will try. All Indian batmen must avoid going after wild bouncers as Rahane did in ODI 2. Unless Indian batting is disciplined, it is tough to put up a fight. Shami & ZAK will be relied upon to lead the bowling which is very thin. Ashwin should just focus on accuracy without being fanciful. Hopefully MSD will add another bowler to make it balanced XI. Good Luck!

  • jerryman on December 17, 2013, 14:16 GMT

    Believe Kallis is a out of form . Hopefully it is not a one sided match . Will be interested to see how India handles pace . That will be the key in the match. May the pace be with you ... Good luck to both teams

  • on December 17, 2013, 14:15 GMT

    Its funny that indians think that they cab win the series against south africa...you guys were no.1 in odi and stilk you were battered almost 3-0...india has never been a good test nation so expect india to fall with easily in tests so that u dnt have to eat your words !!

  • 1ofakind_testcricket on December 17, 2013, 14:15 GMT

    Can anyone local give me any inside info on the weather? Are we likely to get 5 full days play or something close to that? thanks

  • fguy on December 17, 2013, 14:15 GMT

    Despite that our record at home has been so good bcoz it's just that the Indian side over the years have been very good that's why they haven't lost many series except for the odd very rare one. But look at the wickets in SA. While they are great for fast bowlers there's nothing for spinners at all. If wickets were like that all over the world then spin would die. So those lamenting the fate of fast bowlers in India should do the same for spinners in their own country. But of course those double standards won't allow them. Or they don't think spinners are worth surviving? Look at the number of spinners SA currently have & they've always had that problem. To such an extent that they've gone the route of the English & started importing them. At least we produce seamers. Yes, our pace attack is not the best in the world but they aren't the worst either. And at least, win or lose, our Indian team is 100% Indian (unlike SA/Eng/Aus).

  • Johnny_129 on December 17, 2013, 14:06 GMT

    Judging from the current Ashes series it is fair that India is ranked 2nd at present and Sth Africa 1st. India have traditionaleen slow starters overseas and this needs to change - Ganguly recognized this and tried to fix this with varied results. Dhoni needs to follow suit and ensure that the team is firing on all cylinders from ball one! Batsmen need to get runs early. As for the pace bowling - well, that really is a wonder. Hopefully, Zak can regain his old magic. Shami looks a decent prospect but he needs to quickly develop his outswinger or he will be exiting test cricket very quickly - I suspect he may be dropped after the SA series if he has not developed a decent outswinger - Amla and co know by now that Shami relies on inswing to hit the stumps to get the LB. Shami needs the doubt creation that is lacking.

  • on December 17, 2013, 14:06 GMT

    dhoni should be permanent number 4

  • on December 17, 2013, 14:05 GMT

    playing 11 dhawan vijay pujara kohli rohit rahane dhoni ashwin zaheer shami ishant

  • job_eapen on December 17, 2013, 14:01 GMT

    INDIA XI

    Dhawan, Pujara, Dhoni, Kohli, Rohit, Rahane, Ashwin, Zaheer, Shami, Ishant, Yadav

    I think playing 4 quick will help their cause..They have Ashwin who can provide much needed batting if the need arises..

    Feel that Dhoni should bat up the order..because of someone of his experience should be up in the order in Tests rather than playing down the order....

    Leave the ODI series behind...and try to play well in the Test... Hoping they will give SA a fight....Looking forward to an interesting game between World No: 1 and No: 2......

  • abiindia on December 17, 2013, 13:53 GMT

    I do not think this is inexperience outfit for india, young blood and more eager to sign up to do well, i feel this is the best team to face SA, hopefully they might be slow and funky in the first innings, but confidently they will come out with lead to win test

  • on December 17, 2013, 13:47 GMT

    @Yuvraj Kapoor - stop day dreaming. Playing Jadeja ahead of Vijay is just insane.

    @Srini_Chennai - Well said.

    India should not bother too much and try to play out session by session and fight it out. They should play out the new ball, even if means scoring 50 runs off 1st 30 overs bcoz in these conditions one needs to have patience. Picking Shami and Ishant is a good decision as is getting Rahane in place of Jadeja. Though there are doubts over Zaheer's effectiveness, I must say India tend to suffer a lot from left-handed batsman and Zaheer is the only one in the squad who can get them out. Though Umesh can give him a fight for a spot in the playing XI.

    Hope the Indian bowlers bowl better if not brilliant and the batsman fight it out rather than playing rash shots to ease pressure.

  • on December 17, 2013, 13:47 GMT

    It's a wonderful opportunity for the emerging batsmen to make a mark outside the subcontinent. On bouncy tracks, Tendulkar is the best batsman I have watched. I think he will be missed in SA more than in ENG or elsewhere. Pujara, Kohli and others only have to look at his tons during the 1992 and 1997 SA tours when he was hardly 25. His surety of footwork (front or back), range of back foot strokes, strong defense, great bat speed, and temperament, even at that young age, are all attributes that the new players can learn from.

  • Sumeet.Gupta on December 17, 2013, 13:40 GMT

    Maybe I'd be tempted to put Jadeja ahead of Ashwin simply because there is not much to choose b/w the two when it comes to overseas conditions and since the SA middle order has more righties than lefties. But then, Ashwin is a specialist spinner and has Dhoni's confidence. Alternatively, they can play 4 seamers and Dhoni and Ashwin can occupy 6 & 7 positions, hence enabling 5 bowlers. But Dhoni is averse to risks and will go with the tried and tested 6 batsmen + 4 bowlers combo. I just hope that this new look Indian team fights hard, even though they lose

  • on December 17, 2013, 13:39 GMT

    apart from their batting, a very important factor will be the ability of indian quick bowlers to utilize the conditions. more often than not, we see indian quicks get carried away with pace and bounce in away games and let the opponent batters run away with the match. one major reason why india was mauled in odi series against saf was our bowlers' failure to capitalize on the early helpful conditions.

  • on December 17, 2013, 13:35 GMT

    Zaheer khan will be key for india and M Shami. Zaher is vastly experienced and good bowler for these conditions. Imran might not be a big threat for indian players. Kals and FAF are not among many runs in recent past .

  • on December 17, 2013, 13:35 GMT

    I think Jadeja will play ahead of Rahane. He batted pretty decently in ODIs (Second highest rungetter for India) and DHoni will prefer him.

  • fguy on December 17, 2013, 13:28 GMT

    Many deride the Indian pitches but in fact they are very sporting. Much more than the ones we've seen in SA. Pitches in India allow batsmen of all kinds (grafters, stroke makers, etc) to flourish, pacers pick up wickets & so do spinners... if you're a good seam or swing bowler you will pick wickets like dale steyn, glenn mcgrath, kapil dev, zaheer khan have shown. & good spinners of all kinds will also take wickets. Good batsmen can also express themselves. The pitches allow even outside team's batsmen to settle in so even if they've never played on them before it doesn't take very long for them to adjust to it. So they give everyone - even visiting teams of all kinds - a chance. Now with IPL, Indian pitches are not foreign to most world players who are here for a few months every year so the job becomes even easier. Unlike our players who travel to a country once every 3-4 years by which time some of the personnel have also changed.

  • prabukailash.k on December 17, 2013, 13:27 GMT

    Sent Jadeja at no 4 he has the ability to score more in the no 4 position. He scored 2 triple ton at no 4 position only

  • Cpt.Meanster on December 17, 2013, 13:21 GMT

    I think SA and India should be good friends and play a lot more against each other. This will be a competitive series for sure. Unlike, the pathetic, one sided affair known as the Ashes. So good luck to all involved.

  • on December 17, 2013, 13:21 GMT

    Outa Practice? Even after most ODIz in a year, IPL and much more? Sir! Some of your players complaint about busy schedule.

  • venkatesh018 on December 17, 2013, 13:16 GMT

    My Indian XI will have Jadeja in place of Rahane and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar in place of Ishant Sharma. S Africa are taking a risk in playing the spinner in place of a fourth seamer. There is some hope for Indian batsmen with Tahir in the XI.

  • Crick_Expert on December 17, 2013, 13:08 GMT

    DHONI should bat at No. 3

  • Damian123 on December 17, 2013, 13:07 GMT

    Let's see whether the 'mighty' India can at least match Sri Lanka by winning a Test in SA.

  • Abdul319 on December 17, 2013, 13:06 GMT

    south africa will win 2-0

  • Crick_Expert on December 17, 2013, 13:06 GMT

    Rehane should be in TEST team. Why Zaheer again, INDIA should hire new talented bowlers.

  • JamesSmithee on December 17, 2013, 13:06 GMT

    why out of practice ? They are in SA since first of December

  • baji003 on December 17, 2013, 13:04 GMT

    Murali Vijay's career decider !!.,Dhawan's Treat.,Kohli's record., Rohith test attitude., all are going to explore., It is a real Top 2 Team clash !! Lets forget the ODI ., It is test different format !!., Eagerly awaiting for the start ??

  • on December 17, 2013, 13:02 GMT

    Playing 11 should be - Dhawan Pujara Kohli Rohit Dhoni Jadeja Ashwin Zaheer Ishant Yadav Shami

    Yadav shouldn't be sacrificed instead of Vijay This is SA if vijay plays he'll fail for sure, mark my words Besides 4 pacers will give us a serious chance to win the series

  • on December 17, 2013, 13:00 GMT

    All the best to team INDIA.... they need to perform well to draw/win this match/series. play safe, don't neglect the steyn's pace!!!

  • on December 17, 2013, 12:55 GMT

    though india is under dog here and already have lost the one day series badly, i dont think they will easily fall again. the power of dhoni and his boys is immense. lets make the histroy repeat again and india goes one nill up in this test series. india odds are 9 to one at this time and i think its the best chance of making up ur previous loss by this odds. go india go and win it for us.

  • Bleed_Blues on December 17, 2013, 12:55 GMT

    Good luck india!!!!. Play for pride.

  • CricketMaan on December 17, 2013, 12:54 GMT

    What we have not lost a Test in Wanderes!!! Amazing

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on December 17, 2013, 12:53 GMT

    Shaping up to be a cracking (no pun intended) series. Lost of great players to watch out for, and the moisture/cracks will make bowling interesting...

  • Lloydster on December 17, 2013, 12:52 GMT

    I know this is a premature statement but please lets get a new opening pair, Biff and Alviro have both struggled for ages now and with the Aussies coming we need a solid platform, Make the changes now before its too late.

  • AB_DeVilliers on December 17, 2013, 12:49 GMT

    Can't wait, best of luck to both teams. Hope the weather does not influence the result of the game.

  • Srini_Indian on December 17, 2013, 12:48 GMT

    As a die-hard Indian fan, I'm very curious to see the performances of our young players. Failure here should not trigger knee-jerk reactions or panic. After all, we've a very young team with little exposure to their conditions and most of all, playing world's #1 side in their backyard. SA hardly lost anything in last 2 or 3 years, so I wouldn't be shattered or shocked if India lose 2-0. But what I want is India to show fight and make SA earn their victory, if they're to win at all. The experience gained will be very useful in NZ and England. Best of luck to both teams!

  • maheshkumar.de on December 17, 2013, 12:48 GMT

    Good Luck to both teams. SA has a very balanced and quality team. Indian team (at least the batting with Ashwin batting at 8) has talent but they will have to apply themselve if they want to challange an awesome SA team. SA are clearly the favorites but can SA avoid chocking?

  • GRVJPR on December 17, 2013, 12:46 GMT

    For all those who are saying that Indian openers (Vijay and Dhawan) have no chance must remember that all opneing batsmen from all countries have just averaged 25 in South Africa. SO if these two score 26 they would have done a better job.

  • msdhoni123 on December 17, 2013, 12:43 GMT

    if india can negotiate the first 30 overs with only 2 wickets down they are in a good chance to post big totals. i dont think tahir will pose much threat to the indian batsmen. My biggest worry is how dhawan will take on steyn.either he can be out in the first 10 overs or make big daddy hundred.Im hoping Rahane will grab his chance and cement his place. If we can get amla and ab out cheaply India are in for a great chance of winning. I seriously doubt we are going to win tbh but as long we give a good fight i will be a happy fan. and not just roll over like we did in england and australia

  • msdhoni123 on December 17, 2013, 12:43 GMT

    if india can negotiate the first 30 overs with only 2 wickets down they are in a good chance to post big totals. i dont think tahir will pose much threat to the indian batsmen. My biggest worry is how dhawan will take on steyn.either he can be out in the first 10 overs or make big daddy hundred.Im hoping Rahane will grab his chance and cement his place. If we can get amla and ab out cheaply India are in for a great chance of winning. I seriously doubt we are going to win tbh but as long we give a good fight i will be a happy fan. and not just roll over like we did in england and australia

  • GRVJPR on December 17, 2013, 12:46 GMT

    For all those who are saying that Indian openers (Vijay and Dhawan) have no chance must remember that all opneing batsmen from all countries have just averaged 25 in South Africa. SO if these two score 26 they would have done a better job.

  • maheshkumar.de on December 17, 2013, 12:48 GMT

    Good Luck to both teams. SA has a very balanced and quality team. Indian team (at least the batting with Ashwin batting at 8) has talent but they will have to apply themselve if they want to challange an awesome SA team. SA are clearly the favorites but can SA avoid chocking?

  • Srini_Indian on December 17, 2013, 12:48 GMT

    As a die-hard Indian fan, I'm very curious to see the performances of our young players. Failure here should not trigger knee-jerk reactions or panic. After all, we've a very young team with little exposure to their conditions and most of all, playing world's #1 side in their backyard. SA hardly lost anything in last 2 or 3 years, so I wouldn't be shattered or shocked if India lose 2-0. But what I want is India to show fight and make SA earn their victory, if they're to win at all. The experience gained will be very useful in NZ and England. Best of luck to both teams!

  • AB_DeVilliers on December 17, 2013, 12:49 GMT

    Can't wait, best of luck to both teams. Hope the weather does not influence the result of the game.

  • Lloydster on December 17, 2013, 12:52 GMT

    I know this is a premature statement but please lets get a new opening pair, Biff and Alviro have both struggled for ages now and with the Aussies coming we need a solid platform, Make the changes now before its too late.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on December 17, 2013, 12:53 GMT

    Shaping up to be a cracking (no pun intended) series. Lost of great players to watch out for, and the moisture/cracks will make bowling interesting...

  • CricketMaan on December 17, 2013, 12:54 GMT

    What we have not lost a Test in Wanderes!!! Amazing

  • Bleed_Blues on December 17, 2013, 12:55 GMT

    Good luck india!!!!. Play for pride.

  • on December 17, 2013, 12:55 GMT

    though india is under dog here and already have lost the one day series badly, i dont think they will easily fall again. the power of dhoni and his boys is immense. lets make the histroy repeat again and india goes one nill up in this test series. india odds are 9 to one at this time and i think its the best chance of making up ur previous loss by this odds. go india go and win it for us.