After a pulsating T20 and ODI series between India and South Africa with the latter emerging victorious on both formats, the focus shifts to white clothing with the four-match Test series starting on Thursday in Mohali.
India, who are said to be masters while playing at home, are aware of the tough task as they square off against the number one Test side in the world. Hence, all the players in the India team, especially the big guns, need to fire up if they are to register victory in the Test series.
Having said that South Africa will be eager to finish off the series on a high by clinching the Test series as well, which is going to be a huge achievement for the visitors as the men in blue are not accustomed to losing at home.
With some big players on both sides for the first Test in Mohali, the series promises to be an entertaining one.
Here is a look at some key players for the first Test.
Murali Vijay – India's Test opener -- Vijay – may have not featured in the coloured clothing for India, but the right-hander is going to play an important role with the bat at the top of the order for the men in blue in the longest format of the game. Vijay has been scoring consistently for India in the Test series as was witnessed in Australia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Vijay scored two centuries in his last five Test matches. However, Vijay needs to come up with a similar performance against South Africa, who have a potent bowling attack. Apart from scoring runs, the India opener will be asked to see off the new ball and provide a platform for other batsmen to follow.
Ravichandran Ashwin – If India are to register a series win, Ashwin has to be on top of his game in pitches, which are expected to assist the spinners more. South Africa will also consider the off-spinner to be a huge threat in the competition as his recent Test performances reflect. Ashwin, who took 21 wickets in the Test series, played an integral part with the ball in Sri Lanka as the men in blue won a historic series after a gap of 22 years in the island nation. With batsmen such as AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla for South Africa, Ashwin's role with the ball is going to be crucial for India's chances in the series.
Hashim Amla – Amongst an array of South Africa batsmen in their line up, it is Hashim Amla, who is going to play an important role with the bat for the visitors. Amla has been one of the most consistent batsmen for South Africa and they need their star man to fire in the first Test. What makes Amla a special player is his temperament at the batting crease along with his technique, which is a special and an important art in Test cricket. If Amla gets his eye in, he is one batsmen, who will not give his wicket away easily.
Dale Steyn – It goes without saying that Dale Steyn is South Africa's most important bowler in the series, but the bowling spearhead will depend on the services of his bowling partner, Morkel as well. Steyn has always been a huge threat with the red cherry in his hand as he can swing the ball both ways at tremendous pace, which has helped him get a number of wickets in his career. With India possessing a strong batting order, Steyn needs to provide early breakthroughs for South Africa and not allow the India batsmen to settle.