A whitewash, it seemed, was on the cards for India after their thumping win in Centurion, but the stunning comeback staged by the Proteas in the second Test means that we now head to Cape Town with the series all square. India, despite the defeat, will be optimistic about their chances, particularly with skipper Virat Kohli returning, but the momentum will be with the Proteas, who will be pumped up following the drubbing they inflicted on India in Johannesburg. A riveting contest awaits.
The third Test will be played at Newlands, Cape Town, and first things first, it recently has been a bat first venue: four of the last five Tests at the venue have been won by the team batting first. The last H2H match between the two teams was also won by the team that batted first (South Africa), so expect the skipper winning the toss to bat.
Like most South African venues, Cape Town too is low-scoring. Since 2017, the average first innings total at the venue has been a mere 287, and the scores get progressively lower as the match progresses. In 2018 South Africa scored 286 batting first, but it was enough to seal them a 72-run win.
And though the venue has the reputation of being ‘spin friendly’, since 2017 88% of all wickets to fall have been taken by the quicker bowlers. The last time these two sides met at the venue, 37 of the 39 non run-out wickets were taken by the quicker bowlers, with Ravichandran Ashwin accounting for the other two. But so pace-friendly was the wicket that Ashwin just bowled one over in the second innings, with Maharaj bowling just the four in the fourth innings.
Expect a wicket that will be somewhere in between Johannesburg and Wanderers.
The team we've picked has a good mix of players who are built to thrive in South African conditions. But remember, while you could go for the above team, you also have the option of choosing your team from Cricket.com’s Fantasy Research Centre. You can use this tool to build your team with the help of algorithms. Then, based on your preferences, the platform will guide you through creating the ideal fantasy XI.
He has a ton and a fifty in the series already, and in the form he currently is in, it is impossible to look beyond him. Indeed we are talking about KL Rahul, who is the highest run-getter in the series. As good as Dean Elgar has been, there is currently just a sense of inevitability about KL Rahul getting a big score.
Criclytics projects Rahul to score between 74-111 runs in Cape Town.
Rahul might have pipped Elgar for captaincy, but he stands tall as the biggest x-factor. The Proteas skipper has 202 runs in the series, is averaging 67 and took his side to victory in sensational fashion in Johannesburg. He is inevitably bound to make an impact in Cape Town.
Criclytics projects Elgar to score between 83-124 runs in the third Test.
Temba Bavuma does not have a huge score to his name yet, but with an average of 80.50, he has been one of the best batters in the series. On wickets that have been graveyards for batters, Bavuma has astonishingly managed to not get dismissed twice. He is simply in the form of his life.
Criclytics projects Bavuma to score between 69-104 runs in the third Test.
He might be an enigma, but equally, Shardul Thakur is one of the biggest x-factors out there in world cricket right now. And he showed his all-round value in Johannesburg, taking 8 wickets in total with the ball while playing a handy cameo with the bat. You wouldn’t want to be leaving this bloke out in the form he is in.
Criclytics projects Shardul to take between 4-6 wickets in the third Test.
India: Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma
South Africa: Aiden Markram, Dean Elgar (c), Keegan Petersen, Rassie van der Dussen, Temba Bavuma, Kyle Verreynne (wk), Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Duanne Olivier, Lungi Ngidi