AP Photo It would have been a dead rubber but with valuable World Test Championship points on offer, India would be eyeing victory while South Africa would be desperate for some consolation in a wretched tour when the third and final Test starts here on Saturday. There are 40 points on offer and a series whitewash, both of which India would be targetting against the hapless visitors.
That India are a dominant force in Test cricket at home goes without saying, and another example of that was seen in Visakhapatnam where they handed South Africa a run defeat to take a lead in the three-match series.
In Pune, the dynamic Indian batting lineup that follows the openers with the likes Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Hanuma Vihari will definitely look to keep the Proteas out on the field for as long as they can.
However, they will be vary of the collapse they suffered in against Australia, where a rank turner back fired allowing Nathan Lyon to have the last laugh. India boast off two seasoned spinners in R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, and one expects that Kohli will need them to do the bulk of the bowling over the course of the game.
Such was their impact that Jasprit Bumrah was hardly missed despite his phenomenal presence in red ball cricket over the last 18 months. For the Proteas, getting Quinton de Kock and Dean Elgar to do what they did in Vizag again will be extremely important and Faf will hope that doggedness rubs off on the likes of Aiden Markam at the top of the order too.
While India are unlikely to make any changes in their eleven, the South African think tank could be tempted to drop one of Senuran Muthusamy and Dane Piedt, who were taken to the cleaners by the Indian batsmen and bring in Lungi Ngidi, a surprise exclusion in the first Test.
South Africa without any doubts are missing the dynamism a Dale Steyn or Hashim Amla bring to the table, and Faf is well aware of how one wrong decision could make the already difficult task a whole lot tougher for his side.
Hence for South Africa to come away unscathed, Faf and the think tank will have to dot the i's and cross the t's to perfection — much like how the hosts are going about their business.