South Africa and India square off in a two-match Test series in a No. 1 versus No. 2 showpiece. It might be just a two-match series, but there's much at stake for both teams.
What: South Africa vs India, first Test
Venue: Wanderers, Johannesburg
Date: Wednesday, December 18-22, 2013
Start time: 08:30 GMT, 10:30 SAST
TV Info: SuperSport2
Weather: It's rainy season in Johannesburg, and AccuWeather's forecast for the Test isn't great. There are plenty of storms and showers forecast and things could get pretty frustrating for all those involved in the Test. Although it will be warm, expect a few interruptions during the course of the five days.
South Africa will head into the series knowing that, even if they lose 2-0, their No. 1 ranking will remain safe. No matter the result of the series, South Africa will end 2013 as the highest-ranked team in Test cricket.
The hosts, though, won't be thinking about it like that. Barring a rare blip against Pakistan in the UAE this year, South Africa have been a clinical side since taking over the No. 1 ranking from England last year.
They have not lost a Test at home in 2013 and their tried-and-tested group of players have served them well. No surprise, then, that South Africa will be sticking with the usual starting XI.
From Graeme Smith to Imran Tahir, South Africa's Test side is a solid unit and barring his struggles in the longer format of the game, Faf du Plessis retains his place.
The South African Test team wants to create a legacy and Smith highlighted this once again at the launch of The Road to Number One DVD launch a month ago. That legacy is about being a team who is resilient and who continues to strive to be better. A convincing win over India will ensure that legacy continues to snowball.
India's narrative in this series is completely different. They've won all six Tests they've played this year, but those were all on home soil. In the one-day games in South African conditions, their batsmen and bowlers have looked out of sorts.
India's new generation of players haven't had much time to test themselves away from home. They have been well and truly thrown into the deep end by being asked to do so against South Africa.
A win for India is a distant possibility, but a draw could be possible if they come together as a team, with a distinct focus on the batsmen, who need to survive against the assaults of Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander.
It won't be easy, but if they manage to hold on, it will be a small victory and proof that they're not the flat-track bullies everyone makes them out to be.
Dale Steyn is always the trump card for the Proteas. On a bouncy Wanderers surface, in conditions where he averages under 19.00, Steyn will be a real thorn in the side of India's batsmen.
Virat Kohli hasn't quite performed in the way he is capable of on South African soil. He's had little time to adjust and get settled in the middle, managing just 31 in the first ODI, 0 in the second, and not having time to bat in the third because of rain.
India's warm-up game was also rained off which has made things pretty tricky for their batsmen. If Kohli keeps it cool and takes time to get settled, he'll be crucial to India's charge.
Graeme Smith (capt), Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers (wk), JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Imran Tahir, Jacques Kallis, Rory Kleinveldt, Morne Morkel, Alviro Petersen, Robin Peterson, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Thami Tsolekile
MS Dhoni (capt, wk), M Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ravindra Jadeja, Zaheer Khan, Ambati Rayudu, Wriddhiman Saha, Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ojha
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