It is true that winning and losing a Test match depends upon merit and grit. But, winning the toss can certainly give the team the initial push to bring the momentum on to its side.
In the second Test of the ongoing series, the South African captain Faf du Plessis won the toss yet again and chose to bat first. This can possibly help the Proteas take the pole position. Here is a look at the five dangers that Virat Kohli and co. can potentially face in the coming days of the Test match.
In the last five matches played on the SuperSport Park, the average first innings total has been 463. It is obvious that the pitch plays at its best on the first two days of the Test match. After that, it starts to wear and tear.
India, who will bat second, run the risk of conceding a first-innings lead which can prove detrimental to them. A first-innings deficit was the cause of India’s downfall in the first Test – and the same can happen again here.
In all probability, there will be maximum purchase for the spinners on day four and five, after the pitch breaks down. Ashwin will bowl most of his overs on day one and two, when there will probably be no such demons in the pitch.
The off-spinner could have also benefitted from the variable bounce that may be on offer, later. He could also have made better use of the rough towards the right-handers’ off-stump on the Pavilion end. Instead, he will have to settle for whatever little assistance the pitch provides in the first two days of the game.
With the sun beating down and the heavy roller used on the pitch, it is expected to quicken up on days two and three. India will probably be batting for the major part of these days. This will make the runs relatively difficult to come by.
The pitch may not go through any drastic changes, but these little things do matter in a game full of attrition. It is already known that bowlers such as Rabada and Philander can make the best of even an iota of assistance from the surface.
Already, there have been signs which indicate that the pitch will start to keep low in the following days, with the odd ball shooting up. Once that starts to happen, batting will become tougher as time progresses.
The likes of Morne Morkel and Lungi Ngidi will trouble Indian batsmen by virtue of being tall. Their height makes them most-suited for exploiting the variable bounce in the surface.
The team batting in the fourth innings will have to face the most elusive conditions. In such circumstances, even a score of 150-200 can be very challenging for the Indian batsmen.
Moreover, the team batting last has to face the dilemma of either saving the Test match or chasing a given total. As we have seen on past occasions, it is highly probable that the batsmen may buckle under the pressure of targets.
Featured image used for representative purposes only.