South Africa hope to give Dean Elgar perfect farewell in second Test against India

Visitors expected to make multiple changes to squad after losing first Test by an innings

South Africa's Dean Elgar celebrates after victory in the first Test against India at Centurion. Reuters
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A veteran left-handed Test opener with remarkable numbers will ride into the sunset having been the pillar of strength for his team’s batting line-up for years.

Yes, David Warner is retiring from Tests, and ODIs. And so is South Africa’s Dean Elgar.

The Proteas batsman will turn out for the final time this week, during the second and final Test against India which starts in Cape Town on Wednesday. As he prepares for the final chapter of his remarkable career, Elgar has legitimate reasons to be considered a modern great.

Over the last 10 years, Elgar has scored the most runs (3271) and has one of the best averages (48.1) among all batsmen to have played Tests in South Africa – arguably the most difficult country in the world for a Test opener given the considerable help for seamers across venues.

Elgar is one of the last old-school Test batsmen who grinds the bowler down and is willing to take many hits to the body to stay at the crease.

As one of the last remaining 'traditional' batsmen, Elgar will aim to bring the curtains down on his Test career and also lead South Africa to victory.

The hosts will be favourites in Cape Town after India’s hopes of registering their first ever Test series win in the country were comprehensively dashed as they lost the first Test by an innings and 32 runs.

Elgar, 36, will captain the side - standing in for the injured Temba Bavuma - and is in great form having scored a majestic 185 in the first Test.

For India, the challenge will be two-fold.

Left-arm spin bowling all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja is expected to return to bolster the bowling and batting which failed spectacularly in the first Test.

Fast bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj maintained reasonable control in Centurion but lacked support from the other seamers – all-rounder Shardul Thakur and newcomer Prasidh Krishna.

At least one of Mukesh Kumar and Avesh Khan is in line to play at Newlands.

Khan was added to the squad after impressive performances in India's one-day series win which preceded the Test matches, and he followed that with a five-wicket haul for India A against South Africa A last week.

The batting fared no better either. With the exception of Virat Kohli and centurion KL Rahul, the visitors’ batsmen looked ill-equipped to deal with South Africa's all-pace attack.

Captain Rohit Sharma continued to struggle in South African conditions, being dismissed twice by Kagiso Rabada for five and nought.

In five Tests in South Africa, Sharma has only scored 128 runs at an average of 12.80, compared to an overall Test average of 45.45.

Young batsmen Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill and Shreyas Iyer all looked vulnerable against the fast bowlers.

Conditions at Newlands are unlikely to favour fast bowling as much as they did at Centurion but bowlers can still expect some assistance.

The pitch had a covering of green grass on Monday although the surface would be mowed before the match.

Apart from Bavuma, the hosts will also be without fast bowler Gerald Coetzee who suffered a pelvic injury during South Africa's win, achieved in three days.

Updated: January 02, 2024, 9:38 AM