JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Victorious India will seek more of the same when the second test against South Africa starts at The Wanderers on Monday, but for the home side there is much to ponder as they try to level the series at a ground where they have never beaten the visitors.
India’s comprehensive 113-run first test win was built on a solid first day with the bat and their hugely impressive pace attack on a spicy wicket, and sets them up for a first ever series win in South Africa.
Injuries aside, India are unlikely to change their team, though the form of batsmen Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane remains under scrutiny.
The tourists won on their last visit to The Wanderers in 2018, a gutsy performance on a difficult wicket which captain Virat Kohli believes paved the way for their recent success abroad, including in Australia and England.
"It's a top start for us," Kohli said. "It's always a difficult place to play against South Africa. We got so much confidence out of Johannesburg last time. It's a ground we love playing at."
India have recorded two wins and three draws in their previous five tests at the venue.
South Africa will be forced into at least one change, with wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock always set to miss the final two games of the series while on paternity leave. However, he then made his absence from the five-day format permanent after unexpectedly announcing his retirement following the first test loss.
Kyle Verreynne kept wicket in De Kock’s absence in the West Indies in June and is likely to get the nod again, though uncapped left-hander Ryan Rickelton has been in excellent form with the bat in domestic cricket.
The home side could select Duanne Olivier as a fifth seam option in the place of spinner Keshav Maharaj, who failed to take a wicket in the first test and did not bowl at all in India’s second innings.
It is likely they will keep faith with 21-year-old left-arm seamer Marco Jansen, who took 5-124 on debut in the first test and grew into the game after a slow start.
"I don't think we'll lack any confidence heading into Johannesburg but it's never nice losing a game, especially when we know where we went wrong," South Africa captain Dean Elgar said.
"It's difficult to correct those wrongs during a game, but building into the second test, we'll have some time to reflect around what has happened."
(Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Pritha Sarkar)