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October 19, 2019

Depleted SA face dominant India in third Test


October 19, 2019

RANCHI: South Africa will look for answers after consecutive defeats at the hands of India when the two sides meet in the third and final Test starting on Saturday (today).

South Africa are yet to pick up their first points in the competition, but will need a massive change to their approach and execution to change that in Ranchi.

Having picked up their record 11th successive home series win, Virat Kohli’s India continue to scale down new heights in cricket’s longest format, where they have long maintained their ascendancy.

Since Kohli took over as full-time captain, India’s win/loss ratio of 3.555 is by far the highest, with New Zealand coming in at a distant second, with a corresponding number of 1.583, among those teams to have played more than 10 matches in this period. Little about India or South Africa’s performance this series suggests that things will pan out differently in Ranchi.

For South Africa, the problems are deep-rooted. They have failed to come to terms with the retirements of stalwarts such as Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn and AB de Villiers. It has left them prone to top-order capitulations, as a result of which they are left to play catch-up from very early on in the game.

The gulf between the two sides’ batting has now been widened by the absence of Aiden Markram, who has been ruled out of the Ranchi Test after fracturing his right wrist.

While their spinners were already lacking the incision and discipline to trouble India’s batsmen, perhaps more worryingly for South Africa, their pace attack flagged in helpful conditions in Pune. Not often has it been the case that an Asian team’s fast bowlers have outperformed those of South Africa, but that has held true in this series, as India’s fast bowlers exploited the bounce, movement and carry on offer in Pune much better to reap the rewards. And all this despite Jasprit Bumrah not having played a game.

India have already extended their gap at the top of the ICC World Test Championship table to 140 points. Another victory here would take them up a further 40 points.

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