Ed Hawkins previews the final match of the series from Johannesburg and is worried that the weather could spoil the contest...
"If they do get on the park, the moisture could make it a bowl-off. India have menacing bowlers who can make it talk, as South Africa have discovered"
South Africa v India
Wednesday January 24 08.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
The series has been safely pouched by the hosts thanks to a four-man pace attack exposing Indian foibles on the road. Fourth-innings wickets have helped, too.
But they have a new superstar. Lungi Ngidi took six wickets with his right-arm blitzers. At just 21 they look to have a serious player on their hands. And his new-ball partnership with Kagiso Rabada is a heart warming snapshot of the new South Africa. Vernon Philander, not suited to Centurion, could do damage here as well.
Despite their strong showing, South Africa could make changes, enforced and not. Aiden Markram, the opener, is a doubt with a pulled muscle. Theunis be Bruyn stands by after Temba Bavuma broke a finger.
Keshav Maharaj's place is in doubt. The spinner has taken just the one wicket costing 125 runs. Chris Morris, the all-rounder, might get the nod.
The Indian media is having a paddy at their team's performances in the two matches. Skipper Virat Kohli has come in for particular criticism - mostly for what he says, or doesn't say - and there have been calls to bring Ajinkya Rahane back into the fold.
Rahane is listed as vice-captain so it is strange that he was discarded. He also has a good record on the road. They have plenty of candidates who could make way. Chet Pujara averages 12, Shikhar Dhawan 16, Murali Vijay 17 and Rohit Sharma 19. But Rohit is surely the most vulnerable as he has been far from a regular.
There has also been focus - rightly - on their slip fielding. It's hopeless, largely because they're standing with hands on knees when the ball is passing, or taking, the edge.
The biggest problem has been a lack of warm-up. They went straight into the first Test cold. So it is possible, after coach Ravi Shastri said they should have had ten days, that they will be much improved.
Here are the last 11 first-innings scores in Tests in the last ten years (most recent first): 313-426-280-253-266-180-466-226-249-119-303. It is an average of 280. Still, it could hardly be called a batsman's paradise. England rolled the hosts for 73 in dig three in 2016 while India will be nervous about what happened to Sri Lanka last year. They were beaten by an innings, being bowled out for 131 and 177 by an all-pace attack.
South Africa are [1.82], India [7.8] and the draw is [3.0]. The initial reaction to that is: 'hello, South Africa are a darn good price'. But there's a reason for that. The weather threatens to ruin the contest.
The forecast for Jo'burg is extremely poor. Thunderstorms are forecast for all five days. And when it rains in the Highveld, it really rains.
This is a great shame because there's nothing tougher than having to become an amateur meteorologist when framing a wager. The most obvious bet, therefore, is a simple trade on the stalemate. If the weather men are correct then it could be odds-on pretty quickly. The last draw without the weather ruining affairs was in 1997.
If they do get on the park, the moisture could make it a bowl-off. India are not hopeless in these conditions in the field. They have menacing bowlers who can make it talk, as South Africa have discovered.
For all the hand-wringing by the Indian press, their team has been competitive and perhaps if the tosses had gone a different way - and South Africa were batting last - things would be different. So there could be movement in India's price.
Hashim Amla and AB De Villiers are vying for top runscorer at this venue. Amla has 876 in ten, AB 689 in 11. They each have three centuries there. Amla is [4.3], AB [3.9]. Do not discount Faf Du Plessis, though. He has 241 runs in four matches. He is [4.8].
Only Kohli has showed stickability in the top order with 191 runs. So the [3.5] could prove popular. But we cannot discount the possibility of India being razed again here in bowling conditions. So Hardik Pandya at [9.6], Parthiv Patel at [12.0] and Ravi Ashwin at [24.0] might appeal.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l