India vs South Africa: Virat Kohli and Co's number 1 Test rank at stake in the three-match series

India vs South Africa: Virat Kohli and Co’s number 1 Test rank at stake in the three-match series

India are currently at the top position with 115 points to their name with South Africa at 104 points.

India
Indian team. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

The ICC Test championship [2019-2021] will be back in full swing once again when Team India squares off against South Africa in a three-match Test series. The series also marks the beginning of the Indian home Test season which will be followed by a 2-match Test series against Bangladesh in November.

The Test championship which culminates with the top two teams facing in the grand finale at Lord’s in June 2021 has already seen three series played in different continents of the World. While the Aussies and the English locked horns in the Ashes, India, West Indies & New Zealand, Sri Lanka squared off in a 2-match series each.

At the end of the aforementioned series, Team India find themselves at the zenith of the points table, comfortably placed with 120 points thanks to a 2-0 whitewash of the West Indies.

A chance for the Proteas to defy the impossibility of the odds stacked against them

While Team India has already featured in the Test championship, South Africa are coming off a long break from Test cricket, and this will be their first taste of the two-year championship. 2019 hasn’t been a good year for the Proteas. After being shocked by a rampaging Sri Lanka at home in Tests, Faf du Plessis-men had a disastrous World Cup where they lost their first four fixtures and ultimately bowed out of the tournament before the semis.

The likes of Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, and Dale Steyn are gone and Du Plessis’ young side couldn’t have asked for a tougher tour for starting their Test championship campaign. The scars of the 2015 tour of India are still there for some of the players when they had gone down 3-0 in a four-match series.

On square-turners masquerading as Test match pitches, the South African batsmen were sent into a tizzy by the duo of Ashwin and Jadeja. They were bowled out for 79 in Nagpur; still, the lowest Test total against India, and eventually going on to lose the 4-match series 0-3. It could have been 0-4, had we not lost four days of cricket in Bengaluru.

Add India’s imperious home-record this decade- (32 wins and 4 defeats in 45 home games)- and the task for Far du Plessis-men assumes the shape of improbability.

That said, funnier things have happened in cricket. Every time you get ahead of yourself, the game comes to bite you back. So, if South Africa does go and achieve the improbable, it could be a watershed moment in their cricket history. Apart from becoming the only side to beat India at home twice in this century [won 2-0 in 2000] and gaining championship points, they could go on and leapfrog Kohli’s men from the numero-uno spot in the Test rankings.

Even a 1-0 win would suffice. If India goes on to lose this series by either 0-3,0-2 or even 0-1, they will drop down to the No.2 spot. Thus, Virat Kohli and his men would be keen on not losing their top spot in the whites.

In the current ICC rankings, India are comfortably placed at the No.1 spot with 115 points, followed by New Zealand [108 points] and South Africa with 104 points. If India does go on to win the series by 2-0, they’ll add three points to their overall tally. The first Test of highly anticipated Gandhi-Mandela Trophy will start on October 02 in Visakhapatnam.

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