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Test Cricket: India will face South Africa in the second Test match in Newlands, Cape Town

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In Cricket, India would look to level the two-match series when Rohit Sharma-led side locks horns with South Africa in the second Test at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town, today. The match will start at 1.30 pm IST. South Africa are leading the series 1-0 after winning the first Test comprehensively. India is expected to make at least one change in their Playing 11, bringing in Ravindra Jadeja for R Ashwin, who has a lacklustre outing in the Centurion Test. Mukesh Kumar might replace Prasidh Krishna in India’s Playing 11. 

Moreover, this match is vital in the race to reach the final of the 2023-25 World Test Championship. Both teams are hot favorites to make the summit clash, which will take place in June 2025 at Lord’s, and the result of this game will make a big difference to the points table. 

Usually when India touch down in Cape Town, they are on the threshold of a dream. Thrice since 1992 have they arrived here to play the decider, winning which would have enabled them to tick South Africa off their list of places to win a series at. They left the city empty-handed on all the three occasions.

When the bubble burst for India here in Cape Town two years ago, the frustration at the sight of yet another Test series slipping away found a way out in the form of an ugly outburst at the host broadcaster. The trigger? A Ravichandran Ashwin delivery going over Dean Elgar’s stumps according to ball-tracking.

“You should find better ways to win, SuperSport,” Ashwin was heard saying after the on-field lbw decision was reversed.

“Focus on your team as well when they shine the ball… not just the opposition. Trying to catch people all the time!” Virat Kohli, then the India captain, bent over and said into the stump mic.

“Whole country playing against eleven guys!” KL Rahul chimed in soon after.

It was a moment of desperation for India that spun out of control, and also “played nicely into our hands” according to then South Africa captain Dean Elgar.

India have no such thing to get frustrated about this time. There’s no series win in sight, for South Africa’s victory in the first Test in this two-match rubber meant that they can’t lose the series now. The heartbreak this time has preceded their arrival in town, but it doesn’t mean India don’t have much to look forward to.

There’s a lot of damage to undo for India after the insipid bowling performance in Centurion, which was at odds with how good the bowling has been over the last few years. To not be able to put in a good performance on a pitch crying out loud for it must hurt. How that does, or does not, translate into a victory at Newlands will keep everyone hooked.

And so will Dean Elgar’s farewell. This second and final Test against India will be the last for the former South Africa captain, whose non-wicket a couple of years ago triggered India into a meltdown rarely seen on the field; and whose 185 in Centurion last week ensured that their aspirations to win a Test rubber in this country remains a pipe dream.

This week will not exactly be what India had hoped for when they landed on these shores, but there’s still a match to be won. A victory in Cape Town, a city that hasn’t taken to them very kindly in the past, and where they are yet to win a Test, will go a long way in repairing the hurt of the past. And the present.

Squads:

South Africa Squad: Aiden Markram, Dean Elgar(c), Tony de Zorzi, Keegan Petersen, David Bedingham, Kyle Verreynne(w), Marco Jansen, Kagiso Rabada, Nandre Burger, Lungi Ngidi, Keshav Maharaj, Zubayr Hamza, Wiaan Mulder, Tristan Stubbs

India Squad: Yashasvi Jaiswal, Rohit Sharma(c), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul(w), Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Prasidh Krishna, Avesh Khan, Mukesh Kumar, Ravindra Jadeja, Srikar Bharat, Abhimanyu Easwaran.

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