Here is a look at the week ahead in international cricket featuring the Test matches that see India host Australia in their third Test and the West Indies taking on South Africa in the first of two Test matches between the countries.
Here is a look at some of the games with odds from BetXchange.
South Africa VS West Indies (1st Test) – Centurion Park, Centurian
When: Tuesday, February 28 – Saturday, March 4
The Windies have landed in South Africa for a tour that won’t see them leave until the end of March. They have played one match already, a draw against a South African Invitational XI last week. Now, their tour starts for real, with two Tests, three ODIs, and three T20Is making up the contests.
The Windies were bad in their recent tour of Australia. Their batting was the main concern, but they did straighten out some of those issues in another recent series against Zimbabwe. Obviously, the Proteas pose a much more significant challenge than their African counterparts. Still, with the likes of Kraigg Brathwaite and Tagenarine Chanderpaul rounding into some form, the batting lineup looks more solid.
South Africa cannot make the World Test Cricket finals, which has seen a change in the guard. Temba Bavuma is the new Test captain, and he will be looking to end a rotten run of form that has seen the hosts lose four and draw one of their last five Tests. Dean Elgar needs to rebound – and at 36, he needs to rebound fast – while an all-pace attack will likely see a debut for Gerald Coetzee.
South Africa must win here. If they don’t, then their Test problems are even deeper than we currently think.
Australia VS India (3rd Test) – Holkar Stadium, Indore
When: Wednesday, March 1 – Sunday, March 5
India is the heavy favorite to beat Australia in the third Test and claim this series after winning Tests one and two. The best Australia can do at this point is tie the series, but that will take a huge singing in momentum after they were beaten by an innings and 132 runs in Nagpur and then by six wickets in Delhi.
The bowling carries India here, with neither team dominant with the bat. Australia was leading after the first innings – albeit by just one run – but in their second innings, the bowling of Ravindra Jadeja took over. The 34-year-old rolled back the years, taking an astonishing seven wickets for just 42 runs in little more than 12 overs. He set the platform, with India cruising to 118/4 to claim the win.
Taking India to win is too easy. While Mitchell Starc has declared himself fit and ready to go – his bowling would certainly help the Aussie pace attack – the bookies cannot make India short enough odds.
Jadeja has been outstanding, but Ravi Ashwin has been just as clutch for the hosts. He has averaged 30 with the bat while taking 14 wickets in the series at a little under 14 runs per out. It is impressive, so his 6/1 to win Man of the Match seems like a worthy bet as it is hard to see India losing, and Ashwin is in scintillating form.