As big as it gets: Proteas gear up for home tour against India
Both teams have made it clear that their focus is on the two Tests to be played at the end of the tour.
One of a handful of senior players being rested for the limited overs matches, Temba Bavuma will return to lead the Proteas in the Test series against India. Picture: Lee Warren/Gallo Images
A cricket tour against India is always a big deal and, fittingly, there will be plenty to play for when the world’s top-ranked side meet hosts South Africa in all three formats over the next month.
For both teams, it is a chance to bounce back after the recent one-day World Cup. While they would have been pleased with their all-round performances, neither side achieved their goals at the showpiece.
The Proteas were eliminated in the semi-finals, again falling short of a place in the final, while India lost to Australia in the trophy contest after turning out as the firm favourites on home soil, and their upcoming tour of SA provides a chance to redeem themselves.
Both squads are missing senior players for the limited overs portion of the tour, which includes three T20 Internationals (to be played in Durban, Gqeberha and Johannesburg between 10-14 December) and three ODI matches (in Johannesburg, Gqeberha and Paarl between 17-21 December).
But it is a significant opportunity for other players to put their hands up ahead of next year’s T20 World Cup, which they could do if they shine under pressure in what fans will hope is an explosive white-ball campaign.
Focus on Tests
Both teams, however, have made it clear that their focus is on the two Tests to be played at the end of the tour, with multiple senior players set to return after being given a break from the T20 and ODI fixtures.
India will be hoping to build momentum in the ICC World Test Championship after beating West Indies 1-0 in a two-match series in July, while South Africa will be eager to get their campaign off to a good start.
The first Test will be played in Centurion between 26-30 December and the second match will be contested in Cape Town between 3-7 January, with full-strength sides turning out in what should be a hard-fought battle in the game’s most challenging format.
The Proteas haven’t played a Test since March and they will hope to end their hiatus by delivering their best against the world’s most formidable team. It should make for some memorable cricket.