South Africa: The Lions are ‘Roaring’ to go!
The hosts are formidable opponents anywhere but more so at home.
The return of South Africa’s two champion players in AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn will be a shot in the arm for the hosts, when they take on India in the latest instalment of an ever-growing rivalry, now named ‘The Freedom Series’.
Even though South Africa haven’t fared poorly in their absence, their mere presence will surely energize the team. In fact such has been the depth of this team that these returning stalwarts are not guaranteed a place in the starting XI. In spite of the absence of their 2 talismanic players - each being out for over a period of 1.5 years - the Proteas have managed to script some remarkable victories, winning a series again Down Under in 2016 and following that up with an away series win in New Zealand. They had a minor dip in form when they lost to England away but rebounded quickly enough to silence Sri Lanka at home and crush Zimbabwe recently inside 2 days in the first ever 4 day Test. Their performance over the last 12 months in the test arena reads 7 wins, 3 losses and 2 draws at an impressive win % of 58.
It is against this backdrop that the Indians have landed in the Rainbow nation hoping to challenge the might of the South Africans in their own backyard. The Indians themselves boast a highly impressive season where they took on all comers and prevailed. They enter the fray as the world’s no.1 ranked test team.
However taking on the Proteas at home will present a whole different proposition. In Faf Du Plessis they have an astute captain and a shrewd tactician who will carefully plot his opposition’s downfall. Their already formidable batting line up - comprising run machine Amla, their unflappable skipper Du Plessis, the dependable Elgar and their fast improving youngsters Markram, Bavuma and de Kock - will be further bolstered by the return of their star batsman ABD. In conjunction with that is probably the best bowling attack in the accurate Philander, the towering Morkel, fiery speedster Rabada, the steady left arm spinner Maharaj and the returning spearhead Steyn (not even considering the wily leg-spinner Imran Tahir who’s not in the squad for the 1st test) and this already seems a bridge too far for team India. To compound the visitors’ woes will be their hosts’ ever electric fielding not to mention 2 genuine all-rounders in De Bruyn and Morris they have at their disposal. The South Africans are indeed a well-balanced and formidable unit and will be hard to beat.
India were the team that halted the proud 9 year unbeaten away streak of the Proteas and the latter will be keen to return the favour by ending India’s record setting series’ winning streak. They will be itching to have a crack at Kohli’s India. Fast and bouncy wickets are sure to greet the visitors and will be the staple over the 3 match series. Virat Kohli’s men will be up for it though. They will be aware that their hosts will come hard at them and they will try and absorb as much pressure as they can and wait for their opportunity to counter attack. This will be a keenly contested series but at the end of a hard fought series it could well be the roar of the African lion that will be heard reverberating through the cricket landscape.