Having being left frustrated by rain last time out, India’s cricket team will be looking to pick up where they left off when the third Test with South Africa gets underway in Nagpur on Wednesday. After winning the opening match inside three days, India then appeared to have a stranglehold on the second Test after the first day’s play. But rain then washed out the remaining four days in Bangalore, denying Virat Kohli and his team the opportunity to take a 2-0 lead in the four-match series. Still, Kohli is determined that the 11-day layoff since the last action in the series will not disrupt India’s rhythm.
“It’s not the first time that it’s happening, certainly not the last time that it has happened because weather is something that we can’t control,” he said, according to The Indian Express. “What we can control is our practice sessions. We have had a few and the guys are in good shape, looking in good nick and feeling mentally good about approaching this Test match.”
“We do have a lead in this series. We played positively in Bangalore as well and it’s another opportunity for us to put some pressure on the opposition once again. It’s very hard to gain momentum in the series and once you have it, you need to be in right frame of mind to continue with that. That will be our aim.”
The prize at stake in the Nagpur Test is an alluring one. A win and India will wrap up a series victory over the No. 1-ranked Test team in the world. And the odds appear to be in their favor with the pitch again expected to offer assistance to spin bowlers. With Kohli revealing that they could well make changes to their lineup based on the conditions, India may opt to field three spinners, and leave out Stuart Binny.
Despite coming out on top in the Twenty20 and One-Day International series, South Africa’s batsmen have struggled to adjust to the turning conditions offered up in the Tests, recording scores of 184, 109 and 214. Indeed, AB de Villiers, who made his 100th Test appearances last time out, is the only South African to have made a half-century in the series to date. Still captain Hashim Amla believes his side still have it in them to turn the series around.
“We haven't played our best Test cricket,” Amla said, reports Indian news agency PTI. “It hasn't been our full-flowing Test cricket that we're normally used to. This will be great for a start that hopefully in Nagpur we can get on to the pitch and put up a performance that the South African team is used to. The issue has been more with the lack of runs than the lack of wickets. Hopefully, we'll get the runs and continue to play the game to win.”
South Africa’s prospects of taking the wickets needed are not helped by the almost certain absence of Dale Steyn. The man ranked the No. 1 Test bowler in the world is continuing to be hampered by a groin injury.
“Dale Steyn won't probably play in this Test match, I don't think his injury has recovered fully,” Amla revealed. Not having Dale in the team is a setback because not having the best bowler in the world is never a nice thing. But we've got to deal with it, and we've got some good reserves. Hopefully, the guys who play will get a chance to stand out.”
3rd Test Schedule (play begins at 11 p.m. EST each day)
Tuesday, Nov. 24 – Saturday, Nov. 28
TV channel: Willow TV
Live stream: Willow.TV