India are all set to tour South Africa to play three test matches, six one-day internationals and three T20 internationals. The test series will kick off from January 5 which will then be followed by the ODI series starting from February 1. India's tour will conclude with the T20 series scheduled to begin from February 18.
Read on for team analysis, betting tips and series predictions for India tour of South Africa 2018....
Fast bowler Dale Steyn and allrounder Chris Morris who has fully recovered from his injury will be a part of South Africa's 15-man squad for the first test. Duanne Olivier is the only member from the existing test squad to have been sidelined. AB de Villiers will hand over the captaincy back to Faf du Plessis.
Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers are going to be the key batsmen for South Africa across all formats of the game. Amla, in particular, has been in great form and he will cause a lot of headaches for the Indian bowlers if not dismissed early on. Morne Morkel will be the biggest threat with the ball in tests due to his ability to generate extra bounce. Kagiso Rabada and Andile Phehlukwayo too have been in good rhythm and are likely to make a big impact in the limited-overs leg of the tour.
South Africa have lost just one of their last seven test series. That solitary defeat came in England last year where they went down 1-3. They have also done well in the 50-overs format of late with five wins in their last six bilateral ODI series. In the shortest format, the Proteas last played Bangladesh at home where they ended up winning 2-0. Prior to that however, they faced a 1-2 defeat in England.
Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Theunis de Bruyn, AB de Villiers, Dean Elgar, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn
Pace bowler Jasprit Bumrah and wicketkeeper-batsman Parthiv Patel have been included in India's 17-man test squad. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Hardik Pandya return while Kuldeep Yadav and Vijay Shankar have been left out. The ODI squad welcomes back Virat Kohli, Kedar Jadhav, Mohammed Shami and Shardul Thakur. Siddarth Kaul and Washington Sundar are the ones to have been omitted.
Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara have plenty of experience playing in overseas conditions and it will be crucial for the team that these two batsmen find form as early as possible. Virat Kohli is always a key figure irrespective of the format and one can expect him to score some big runs considering the kind of form he is in. Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will be the go-to bowlers in tests while Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Yuzvendra Chahal will be the main weapons in this bowling attack when it comes to ODIs and T20s.
India have exhibited phenomenal test form since 2015, winning nine and drawing one of their past ten series. In ODIs, the men in blue have won all of their previous five series. Their recent record in 20-overs cricket is not as impressive as that in the longer formats. In their last five T20 series, India have three wins, a draw and a defeat that came in a one-off match against the West Indies.
Virat Kohli (c), Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Parthiv Patel, Jasprit Bumrah
Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur
South Africa have the home advantage and visiting teams especially those from the sub-continent find it very difficult to challenge them in their own conditions. The hosts therefore start off as hot favorites amongst the bookmakers to win this test series at a short 1.50 price on Bet365, Betway and Ladbrokes. India, despite coming off a terrific home season, are big underdogs at high odds of 4.50 on Ladbrokes and 4 each on Bet365 and Betway. The odds for the series to end in a draw stand at 5 on Ladbrokes and 6 each on Bet365 and Betway.
India will be carrying plenty of momentum and confidence as they are undefeated in their past ten test series. But facing South Africa in South Africa will be a completely different challenge altogether. The fast and bouncy pitches in the country are going to be a hard test for the Indian batsmen who like the ball coming nicely on to the bat. Moreover, the visitors have never won a test series in South Africa; the hosts have won five out of the six series played between these two sides. A drawn series in 2010/11 is the best result that India have managed to produce thus far. So obviously, it makes sense to back the Proteas to win the test series. And although India may present a more stern competition in the shorter formats, we don't expect a series win from them in conditions where they have struggled every time.