In 2017 we were used to seeing India dominate any team that came before them but as we reach the New Year, there are greater challenges lined up over the next 12 months. It all starts with three tests against South Africa and the hosts, after a long period of injury issues, are now getting back to full strength.
The first game starts at Newlands on Friday and Virat Kolhi’s men find themselves in an unfamiliar position going into it.
India are very much the outsiders for the first test and a win for the visitors is available at odds of 4.50 with both Betfair and Betway. Victory for South Africa is the favourite option at 1.80 with Betway while the draw completes this result market at 4.00 with Betfair.
Although it’s been widely tipped that Dale Steyn’s comeback will be delayed, the South Africans should have AB De Villiers and Faf Du Plessis while they seem to have solved a problem position with the emergence of opener Aiden Markram.
It’s certainly a formidable home line up but the key to the game could lie with India’s batters. Kolhi, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara and Rohit Sharma all found form in the tests against Sri Lanka and with Steyn missing, plus some potential for bad weather around the third and fourth days, a draw is certainly a strong possibility if the tourists bat big on first innings.
Match Odds Summary: South Africa 1.80 (Betway), India 4.50 (Betway), The Draw 4.00 (Betfair – Editor’s Pick).
He arrives rested and on the back of two double centuries against the Sri Lankans so it’s no surprise to see Virat Kohli as favourite to score most Indian runs on first innings. The skipper is available at 3.60 with Betfair with Cheteshwar Pujara on offer at 4.00 with Betfair again.
Selection could be a problem for India but presumably Vice Captain Ajinkya Rahane will play and he can be picked up at 6.00, also with Betfair. That leaves Shikhar Dhawan at 5.50, Murali Vijay at 6.00, Rohit Sharma at 7.50 and a potential outsider in Hardik Pandya at 12.50 – all with Betfair.
Kohli obviously makes a good case here but if you follow these columns you’ll know that we’ve made some good profits on Pujara so he is our pick for the first test.
For South Africa, Aiden Markram comes into this game with a test batting average of 95.00 but so far he’s only played against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. This will be the first real challenge for the opener but he could still be a good option to top score for South Africa on first innings at 5.50 with Betfair.
AB De Villiers and Hashim Amla start as joint favourites at 4.20 with Betfair while opener Dean Elgar is in good touch and would be our preference at 5.00 with Betfair again. Other South African options include Faf Du Plessis at 6.00 plus Temba Bavuma and Quinton De Kock at 10.00 – all with Betfair.
Top Batsman Odds Summary: India: Kohli 3.60 (Betfair), Pujara 4.00 (Betfair – Editor’s Pick), Dhawan 5.50 (Betfair), Rahane 6.00 (Betfair), Vijay 6.00 (Betfair), Rohit Sharma 7.50 (Betfair), Pandya 12.50 (Betfair).
South Africa: Amla 4.20 (Betfair), De Villiers 4.20 (Betfair), Elgar 5.00 (Betfair), Markram 5.50 (Betfair), Du Plessis 6.00 (Betfair), Bavuma 10.00 (Betfair), De Kock 10.00 (Betfair).
Other Side Bets
It’s been a comprehensive round up so far so we’ll end with a quick final tip and once again it’s an old favourite of ours. We might be repeating ourselves but when something is profitable it’s worth it so, in helpful conditions, Bhuvneshwar Kumar is our choice to be India’s top bowler on first innings at 4.50 with Betfair.
India Top Bowler Odds Summary: Ashwin 4.00 (Betfair), Kumar 4.50 (Betfair – Editor’s Pick), Shami 4.50 (Betfair), Jadeja 5.00 (Betfair).
India’s bowlers are undoubtedly important but in a real challenge, it’s the batters that hold the key to this game and if a number of top order players can carry over the form from the Sri Lanka series, a draw will look good at a reasonable price.