South Africa vs India 2018: Top-5 players to watch out for

As India begins their crucial African Safari, these match winners will play a significant role in the Test series.

Virat Kohli

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India’s Captain Courageous had a remarkable home session where he kept performing with the bat. He averages over 58 with the bat, including 15 hundreds since he was named the captain of the side. Kohli is also the first international skipper to score six double-centuries. If Indians want to put pressure on the hosts, they need to score big in the first innings. Kohli averages a healthy 56 in the first innings of a test match and an impressive 73.14 in the fourth innings. However, against South Africa, he will be desperate to score his maiden hundred and if he does so, it will put India in a commanding position indeed.

Kagiso Rabada

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The 25-year-old speedster from Johannesburg has transformed himself from being the exciting prospect in South African cricket to now leading the pace battery. In the absence of Dale Steyn, Rabada has taken giant strides in the longer format with 105 wickets in just 23 matches. He is a potent force when he his bowling in South Africa, where he picks up a wicket in less than three overs. While supreme pace might not affect the Indian batsmen, his consistency with bowling full length will definitely trouble the visitors. Faf Duplessis will be hoping that his main man with the ball will play a defining role in this series.

Murli Vijay

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The ‘monk’ will be facing his toughest assignment as an opener when he walks out to bat in this series. Vijay has shown his ability to leave balls confidently in the past, which makes him an ideal candidate for the job. His career average of 41 takes a dip to a mere 36 when he bats in foreign conditions. But his inspiring 97 in the second test match at Durban in 2013 tells you that he has the ability to score big in challenging conditions. Vijay will be a vital cog in the wheel for India because if he, along with Pujara can protect the middle order from the new ball, then the likes of Kohli, Rahane and Sharma will find it easier to score runs and score them quickly as well.

Mohammed Shami

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Since he debut in 2013, Shami has played just 27 Test matches. Unfortunately, a flurry of injuries have kept him away from International cricket. However, since his comeback in 2016, he has completely transformed his game. He averages an impressive 25 and has picked up close to 50 scalps in that period. The conditions in South Africa will be ideal for Shami because of the bounce he generates. Interestingly, he becomes a deadly proposition for the opponents in the fourth innings of a Test match where he picks up a wicket in every third over he bowls. In India’s quest of 20 South African wickets in a Test match, Shami invariably becomes Kohli’s most important weapon with the ball.

Hashim Amla

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With 8583 runs and 28 centuries, Hashim Amla is South Africa’s go-to batsman. Even with a slight dip in his batting form, he remained one of the most prolific run-getters in the last couple of seasons, with his batting average hovering around 50. His solid technique of taking his head to ball makes him a force to reckon with. The mainstay of the protea batting line up, Amla will be keen to make a mark in this series.  In the 18 Test matches he has played against India, he has scored 1325 runs with five centuries; a best of an unbeaten 253 that came in Nagpur, 2010. The numbers suggest that he likes to bat against India and if he continues to do so there is trouble looming for the visitors.

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