As both India and South Africa gear up for the second Test in Pune, Cricketnext takes a look at potential battles that could change the course of the game.
Ravichandran Ashwin vs Dean Elgar
Ashwin is usually threatening against the left-handers whether the off-spinner takes the new ball, or the old one. He can induce edges, beats batsmen by his flight and bounce, or even surprise with the carrom ball. On a Pune surface, that might offer assistance to spinners, Ashwin could be lethal, especially when he’s fresh from a eight-wicket haul at Visakhapatnam. On the other hand, Elgar played Ashwin well in the first innings of the previous match. It would be another test for the southpaw opener to be able to tackle the might of Ashwin.
Mohammed Shami vs Faf du Plessis
In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, India rely heavily on the services of Shami, who has been in excellent form for over a year. His ability to land ball on the seam has reaped him rewards, and would once again look to be among the wickets in the Pune Test. He would be up against the Proteas captain Faf du Plessis, who can play long innings and frustrate the bowlers. In the Visakhapatnam Test, his fifty in the first innings was instrumental in giving South Africans a push, that took them to a bog total.
Kagiso Rabada vs Rohit Sharma
Even though Rabada bagged only one wicket in the previous Test, he did bowl economically. He would be raring to go in the second Test and be among the wickets once again. He could be a big threat first up to Indian openers, especially Rohit, who likes to play his shots. With the confidence Rohit has got from his twin-ton effort, he would want to take on Rabada, which could instead lead to his downfall. But if Rohit safely sees through initial few overs, then he could trouble Rabada with his strokeplay.
Keshav Maharaj vs Virat Kohli
Kohli had an ordinary match with the bat as he fell to Senuran Muthusamy in the first innings. Even though the latter might not trouble him this time round, Maharaj is a class act and can certainly create a few problems for the Indian skipper. Kohli also has a knack of giving away his wicket at the most unexpected times. But if he does get his eye in, it will be difficult for Maharaj to contain him.