Starting in 1995 South Africa have played 22 Tests at Centurion, winning 17 and losing 2. The odds are heavily in stacked against India. For Asian teams, the corresponding figure is 0-8. The numbers don't make for pretty reading, if it is Virat Kohli & Co. reading them at this pivotal point in the series. If that's not enough to intimidate India, then all they need to think of is that the Wanderers is next on the schedule and although it is one of the two places where India have won a Test in South Africa before, between 2006 and now, Johannesburg has only become less hospitable.
Now with India trailing 1-0 in the 3-match series, the onus will be on Indian batsmen, especially the top four, to not repeat the same mistakes. With India receiving flak for selection of Rohit Sharma over Vice-Captain Ajinkya Rahane who has a better overseas average, it is likely he might have to sit out in Centurion to make way for his state-mate. The spotlight is also on Dhawan and many pundits have asked for KL Rahul’s inclusion for the second Test.
India’s bowling unit looks sorted with seamers doing the job and Ashwin providing able assistance as the fourth specialist bowler. In Hardik Pandya, Kohli has a bowler who can relieve the three quicks during long spells. However, given the bouncy nature of the Centurion track, there is a good argument to be made in playing Ishant, the most experienced member of this squad when it comes to Tests in South Africa. India need someone to emulate Morkel, and given his height and ability to extract bounce, as well as his bowling form against Sri Lanka, Ishant could be an inspired pick.
Probable XI: Aiden Markram, Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Vernon Philander, Chris Morris, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel.