Where: Newlands Cricket Ground, Cape Town
When: Wednesday, January 3 – Sunday, January 7
This is the final match in India’s tour of South Africa that began with an abandoned T20I (rain) on December 10 at Kingsmead in Durban. A tied T20I (1-1) series was followed by India winning the ODI series between the two sides 2-1.
In the Boxing Day Test – the first of the two-Test series – South Africa beat the tourists by innings and 32 runs in a show of stunning domination. South Africa won the toss, elected to field, and promptly bowled out India for 245 runs in less than 70 overs. The hosts were in control after a monster performance with the bat – Dean Elgar put up 185 as the Proteas put up 408 runs.
Even with control, South Africa could not have expected a bowling performance so dominant that the Test was closed out inside three-days. The Proteas bowlers went through the Indian batting lineup like a buzzsaw, dismissing the side for just 131 in their second innings and winning with an entire innings to spare. It was an outstanding performance, and it will be up to the tourists to make the adjustments needed for the 2nd Test if they are to salvage a draw out of this tour section.
The problem for India is that they now visit a ground where they have an abysmal record. They have lost four and drawn two of their six Tests against South Africa at Newlands, listing the last two times they have played there (2018 and 2022), with their last draw coming in 2011. India has famously never won a Test series on South African soil, and while they cannot change that in 2023-24, they would love to get the Newlands’ curse off their back for future Tests at the venue.
This will be the last chance for a while for this squad of players to put on a show after South Africa named an underpowered squad for their upcoming tour of New Zealand. I would be stunned to see any major changes in the lineup, given just how dominant the Proteas were at Centurion.
India will look to spark life into their bowling attack, and they have called up fast bowler Avesh Khan instead of Mohammad Sami for this one. Rohit Sharma was the only player offering any batting resistance in the first Test, and the captain will have to lead from the front again in Cape Town as India tries to find its footing in the middle order.
I love South Africa at 12/10 to win here, given how dominant they were in Durban. Yes, India will throw everything they can at the hosts, but turning around an innings defeat on a ground where the hoodoo is real feels unachievable.
Elgar was a monster in the first match, and he is the 3/1 favorite to repeat as the top batsman. If you like him as Man of the Match, BetXchange has him at an interesting 8/1 shot. Kohli is 13/2 as Man of the Match after being the stand-out player for India in the first Test.