Focus on Pune weather, pitch as South Africa enter do-or-die territory

Match details
MCA Stadium, Pune
October 10-14, 09:30 IST

The main picture
For a team who are not blessed with a wealth of spin-bowling options and who managed only one 200-plus total in nine innings in their previous Test series on Indian soil, South Africa gave a good account of themselves in Visakhapatnam and go into the second Test in Pune looking to build on the positives.

The obvious plus from the first Test was the first-innings batting performance, which was built on application and courage, briefly unsettling the home team on day three and giving South Africa a shot at saving the Test. South Africa batsmen’s willingness to attack India’s chief threats—Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja—was refreshing, and you suspect, it will remain their template going forward. Runs from lower-order batsmen, coming in challenging conditions and against a potent bowling attack, is the other big positive for the Proteas.

South Africa will revisit their team combination for the second Test, with changes to the playing XI likely. Senuran Muthusamy’s role in the side felt ambiguous, but his 82 runs with the bat over two innings without being dismissed might sway the team management to sticking with him. Dane Piedt struggled for control in both the innings, let alone provide a wicket-taking threat, and is likely to get the chop with Lungi Ngidi a possible replacement for him. Piedt, who doesn’t impart enough revs on the ball to get it to turn off the pitch or drift in the air, troubled Cheteshwar Pujara in the second innings and also had a dropped chance off his bowling. But with just one left-hand batsman in the India playing XI (Jadeja), Piedt is unlikely to be a weapon for Faf du Plessis.

India winning the first Test didn’t come as a surprise, but Virat Kohli and co. will take satisfaction from overcoming South Africa’s challenge on day three. Dean Elgar and Quinton de Kock, who shared a 164-run partnership for the sixth wicket in South Africa’s first innings, put the India bowlers under pressure with their proactive and ruthless strokeplay, and a failure to take their wickets late on day three could have turned the tables on India.

Going 1-0 up in a three-Test series means India are the team in the ascendancy and South Africa’s first-innings batting performance in Visakhapatnam will keep them on their toes. India, of course, are the more settled team armed with the tools to exploit the prevailing conditions. South Africa’s chances depend on their bowling attack’s potency—which was lacking in Visakhapatnam, where they managed to pick just 11 wickets over two innings—while winning the toss, albeit an uncontrollable, remains a crucial factor in winning Tests in the sub-continent.

MCA Stadium Pune pitch report and weather forecast

India were skittled out for 105 and 107 in the only Test to be hosted by the venue so far, with Australia, led by left-arm orthodox spinner Steve O’Keefe’s twin six-fors, winning the match by 333 runs. That Test was played in late-February, the onset of the summer season, though it was under-prepared and India were disadvantaged by Kohli losing the toss. The pitch for the second Test between India and South Africa, according to reports, wore a tinge of green 48 hours before the Test, though the grass is likely to be shaved before Thursday.

Thunderstorms have been forecast for all five days of the Test, with the temperature hovering in the early-30s (degree Celsius).

India vs South Africa playing 11 for 2nd Test

Likely India playing 11: 1 Virat Kohli (c), 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Mayank Agarwal, 4 Cheteshwar Pujara, 5 Ajinkya Rahane, 6 Hanuma Vihari, 7 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 8 Ravindra Jadeja, 9 Ravichandran Ashwin, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Ishant Sharma

Possible South Africa playing 11: 1 Faf du Plessis, 2 Dean Elgar, 3 Aiden Markram, 4 Temba Bavuma, 5 Theunis de Bruyn, 6 Quinton de Kock (wk), 7 Vernon Philander, 8 Senuran Muthusamy, 9 Lungi Ngidi, 10 Kagiso Rabada, 11 Keshav Maharaj

How to watch India vs South Africa 2nd Test?

The match is being aired on Star Sports 1, HD 1, Hindi 1 and Hindi 1 HD, while Hotstar will provide the live stream.