Kohli Back as India Aim to Make History

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It's a winner-takes-all decider in the ongoing Test series between South Africa and India on Tuesday morning.

Virat Kohli

Not too many would have expected it to go down to the wire, but that is exactly what we have got with the third Test getting underway on Tuesday at 08:30 UK time.

Despite their poor record in South Africa, India were favourites to secure their first series victory after having previously shown their strength in all conditions, having won in England and Australia.

Odds Against India

The script appeared to have been read with the tourists winning the first Test in Centurion by 113 runs but someone clearly tore it up on the trip to Johannesburg as it was the Proteas who triumphed at The Wanderers, winning by seven wickets to set up this intriguing finale.

And what a setting for the occasion with the iconic Newlands venue again playing host to Test cricket for the first time in two years, in what could be a cracker.

India, despite losing the World Test Championship last summer, are the number one side in the ICC Test rankings and have been installed as the 11/10 favourites to secure the win.

Undoubtedly, there will be interest in an odds-against price for an India win and, although there are still issues on the batting side to be wary of, there is arguably more to come from an underperforming India side than there is to come from the hosts.

There is certainly some juice in the 31/20 on offer for South Africa given what has gone before, while the weather may yet keep the interest on the 15/4 about the draw, even though there has only been one since 2011.

Talisman Return a Welcome Boost

Virat Kohli’s men may have won the opening Test but it could be argued that they had the best of the conditions when batting first to compile 327. They then struggled second time around to be dismissed for 174, albeit still too many for South Africa (197 and 191).

Without their talismanic skipper for the second Test, India’s batting frailty in the middle order came under the spotlight again, and their bowling attack was unable to bail them out, with South Africa chasing down the victory target of 240 for the loss of just three wickets in impressive fashion.

Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane both scored half-centuries in the second innings in Johannesburg to perhaps ease the pressure they seem to be under, but it is fair to say that the batting line-up is not firing on all cylinders.

Rahul Offers Some Value Against Kohli

Kohli missed the second Test with back spasms but is back to strengthen the middle order and it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise should he justify favouritism at 23/10 and finish as his side’s top-scorer in the first innings.

The elegant right-hander still averages above 50 in Test cricket and in South Africa, but he has struggled over the last couple of years with a career-low yearly average of 19.33 in 2020 only improved to 28.21 last year.

Kohli rarely fails in Test cricket but it has been more than two years since he scored the last of his 27 centuries – against Bangladesh in Kolkata in 2019 – while he hasn’t reached three figures away from home since December 2018.

KL Rahul should at least come into the reckoning at 3/1 as he scored a fine 123 in the opening win to boast a series average of 51.00, but he hasn’t scored that many runs in three innings since, highlighting the inconsistency of the India batting.

Rabada Can Shine in Landmark Game

South Africa’s batting has hardly thrived in what has been a low-scoring series so far but that means a little more value in the betting, with captain Dean Elgar topping the market at 3/1, having guided his side home with a superb unbeaten 96 at the Wanderers.

The bowling has been fantastic from both sides with plenty of options to consider for the best innings figures for each team, and it is not too surprising that the ever-consistent Kagiso Rabada, who leads the series wicket-takers with 13, is 2/1 favourite to be South Africa’s top bowler first up, particularly given that he may well be further motivated to make an impact on what will be his 50th Test appearance.

*All odds correct at time of writing

Rob has around 20 years journalism experience and has written and commentated on the likes of football, cricket and rugby. He also has an impressive background in racquet sports and regularly provides content on the likes of tennis and badminton.
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