South Africa vs India 1st Test: Preview and Prediction

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India to face South Africa in the 1st Test on December 26th

After an engaging T20I and a successful ODI series against South Africa, Team India is back in White Jersey after a significant gap, gearing up for the Boxing Day Test set to take place at SuperSport Park in Centurion. This marks Proteas’ inaugural test series in the ongoing World Test Championship Cycle while India previously encountered West Indies back in July.

The triumvirate of Indian Cricket, skipper Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and Jasprit Bumrah are set to return to action after a hiatus following the heart-wrenching loss in the ODI World Cup 2023 Final against Australia in November. Rohit Sharma will lead the Indian side for the first time in South Africa, where his test batting record has room for improvement.

In the forthcoming two-test match series, India holds a promising opportunity to script history, given that the visitors have never clinched a series victory on South African soil. The stakes are not only for the series but also for 12 crucial points in each match of the WTC, as both teams strive to secure a spot in the next WTC Final.

Temba Bavuma, appointed as the test captain earlier this year, takes the reins from Dean Elgar. Elgar led the Proteas during India’s previous visit to South Africa and would be participating in his last two tests as the former skipper is set to retire after the second test at Cape Town.

What have they done so far?

Over the past year, Proteas engaged in two test series against Australia and West Indies. Their tour to Australia for a three-match series was marked by an intense contest where the hosts claimed victory in the first two matches, securing their first home series win against the Proteas since the 2005-06 season. Despite this, South Africa managed to salvage a draw in the New Year Test in Sydney, largely affected by persistent rain.

Back home, the Proteas clashed with the West Indies in a two-match series. The Centurion Test was closely contested, resulting in an 87-run victory for the hosts, while the Johannesburg Test saw a dominant Proteas performance, securing a 2-0 series win with a resounding 284-run triumph.

Following the IPL, India swiftly journeyed to England for the 2023 WTC Final against Australia at The Oval in June. This marked India’s second consecutive appearance in the pinnacle WTC showdown. Similar to the 2021 WTC Final against New Zealand, Australia outshone India, securing victory with a substantial margin of 209 runs.

India is currently the No. 1 Test team in the ICC rankings

About a month later, India embarked on a West Indies tour for a two-match series, initiating the 2023-25 WTC cycle. In the first Dominica match, India dominated, seizing a commanding 1-0 lead by defeating the hosts by an innings and 141 runs. The series concluded in Trinidad, where persistent rain hindered India’s chances, resulting in a draw and shared WTC points between the two teams.

Head to Head Record

In their 42 encounters donning the white jerseys, South Africa and India have engaged in fiercely competitive battles, with the Proteas currently holding a slight edge, having secured 17 wins compared to India’s 15 victories, while 10 matches culminated in draws. 

In the latest test series held in 2021-22, Proteas staged a remarkable comeback, overturning a 0-1 deficit to clinch the series 2-1 on home turf against India.

Examining their overall test series record, South Africa and India have clashed in 15 series, with the Proteas emerging victorious in 8, India securing 4, and 3 series concluding in draws.

Key Players 

Aiden Markram (South Africa): Aiden Markram, emerges as a formidable force for his team, showcasing outstanding form in Test cricket. Notably, his recent innings, including scores of 115, 47, 96, and 18, reflect a total of 276 runs with an impressive average of 69. 

Markram’s standout innings of 115 runs against West Indies in February occurred at Centurion, his home ground, where the upcoming test against India is also scheduled. The 29-year-old boasts an average of 43.92 on South African pitches. 

Shami’s absence in the upcoming test may present a challenge for visitors, as Markram has historically been dismissed by Shami four times in six innings during the last tour.

Virat Kohli (India): India’s premier batsman, Virat Kohli, has made a remarkable resurgence in Test cricket after a challenging three-year period. In 2023, Kohli performed exceptionally well, boasting an average of 55.70, a stark contrast to his poor averages of 19.33, 28.21, and 26.50 in 2020, 2021, and 2022 respectively.

Kohli scored a century in India’s last Test match against West Indies in Trinidad

His South African record is impressive, scoring 719 runs in 14 innings at an average of 51.35, ranking third behind his averages in India and Australia. Kohli’s history at Centurion includes a century in the 2018 tour, where he emerged as the highest run-scorer in that series. In the current year, he leads the Indian batting charts with an average of 55.70, accumulating 557 runs in 10 innings.

Predicted XIs

South Africa: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Tony de Zorzi, Temba Bavuma ©, Kyle Verreynne (wk), Keegan Petersen, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Gerald Coetzee, Lungi Ngidi

India: Rohit Sharma ©, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj


In the recent tour to South Africa, India achieved a significant milestone by becoming the sole Asian team to triumph over the Proteas at Centurion. Notably, Centurion stands witness to the Proteas’ formidable record, boasting 22 victories out of 28 matches, with only 3 losses and 3 draws.