South Africa v India Second Test Tips: Ashwin worth a gamble

Ravi Ashwin
Ashwin may be needed with the bat, too

Ed Hawkins picks a 33/1 bet with bowlers primed to dominate at The Wanderers from Monday...

"If we've read the pitch right, it is not inconceivable that India could get knocked over cheaply"

(0.25pts) Back Ravi Ashwin top India bat 34.033/1

South Africa v India
Monday 3 January 08:00
TV: live on Sky Sports

Short of experience

South Africa came into this series knowing they would be without Quinton de Kock for the final two matches because of paternity leave. But they did not expect him to quit the format entirely.

Short- and long-term it leaves South Africa shorn of senior batters. Only Dean Elgar and Temba Bavuma are reliable performers. Rassie van der Dussen, although talented, remains a work in progress in the format.

Kyle Verreynne, who has been in and around white-ball teams, comes in and has a chance to stake his claim on a career. Otherwise South Africa will decide between all-rounder Wiann Mulder and left-arm pacer Marco Jansen at No 7.

The reason for the change is the availability of Duanne Olivier, the steady eddy of a varied and pacy attack.

Probable XI: Elgar, Markram, Petersen, Van Der Dussen, Bavuma, Verreynne, Mulder, Rabada, Maharaj, Olivier, Ngidi.

India can improve

India are unlikely to change a winning team after taking a 1-0 lead in the first Test at Centurion. But they might be wise not to rest on their laurels.

There are a couple of spots which require attention. Firstly, do they really need Shardul Thakur who seems a safety-first approach? He barely bowled in the second innings and some extra bounce from Ishant Sharma might be useful if they can stomach Mohammad Shami at No 8.

Ajinkya Rahane's place is still up for debate. Had Shreyas Iyer not won man of the match on his debut against New Zealand then his poor form would be tolerated. But his low returns seem hard to justify now.

Possible XI: Rahul, Agarwal, Pujara, Kohli, Iyer, Pant, Ashwin, Shami, Bumrah, Ishant, Siraj

Pitch report

These two met at this venue in 2018 and it made for a thrilling (if not dangerous for batters) Test. India won that contest, bowling the hosts out on a wearing surface with variable bounce.

The toss was key then and it could be again. Five of the last six have been won by the team batting first. It's also a venue where teams from Asia have struggled. In eight innings for Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India in the last five years, only one made more than 250. The last five first-innings scores read: 157-400-262-488-187-426.

In seven domestic first-class matches this year the highest score in the first match innings is 375 but that is the only score of more than 206. It has been a bowlers' paradise first up.

Pitch report

Despite a 113-run defeat South Africa gave it a good go in Centurion. They were bang in the game up until the final day.

Indeed, without the partnership of 117 for the first wicket from Kl Rahul and Mayank Agarwal, things would have been tight. The hosts took the 'last' 17 India wickets for 223. If South Africa can keep Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi fit they have an exciting pace pairing.

However, it is hard not to reckon South Africa's best chance has gone. India were without game time and yet were still firing. It was an extremely impressive performance.

India are 1.991/1 to go 2-0 up with South Africa 4.407/2 and the draw 3.7011/4. If India bat first we can expect them to go 1.705/7. It's still a wager. The weather forecast is good.

Tops value

Five top-bat honours in the last 12 first-innings have gone to an opener. So Elgar catches the eye at a boosted 3/1 with Sportsbook. He averages 50 in the first dig in the last two years.

India have an issue with not just Rahane. Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara's records are appalling over the last two years. Kohli's first-innings average is 21 and Pujara's 20. We swerve them at a boosted 12/5 and 10/3 respectively.

Rahul and Agarwal are both more worthy at 7/2. Another price that interest is the 33s about Ravi Ashwin. If we've read the pitch right, it is not inconceivable that India could get knocked over cheaply. Bet here

Will Covid save England? This week's Cricket...Only Bettor

Ed Hawkins P-L

2021: +34.41pts
2020: +5.91pts
2019: +37.25pts
2018: +23.53pts
2017: +12pts
2016: +18.1pts
2015: +38pts
2014: +31.5pts
2013: +25pts

Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. Includes Hawk-Eye column p-l

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