According to former India head coach Ravi Shastri, this is India’s best chance to win a Test series in South Africa. They lack Vernon Philander’s services, not because their team is superior to the hosts, who seem a little less seasoned than their prior squads.

If Philander hadn’t been present, Ravi Shastri claimed that India would have won at least two Test series in South Africa. Shastri is not incorrect, even though he may have said the things in jest.

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Philander’s home record versus India is very good. Between 2013 and 2018, he participated in five Test matches against the Indian touring teams. 2013 saw two, while 2018 saw three. The right-arm medium-pacer, who was deadly with the new ball, claimed as many as 25 wickets at an average of 18 in those five Test matches.

Ravi Shastri speaks on Vernon Philander’s impact

“This is India’s best chance, you know why? Because this bloke is not playing,” Ravi Shastri said pointing towards Vernon Philander. Philander was standing beside Shastri before the IND vs SA 1st Test began.

To make matters worse for the Indian batters, he was a member of a bowling attack that included players like Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. He was the ideal counterpoint to Morkel’s bounce and Steyn’s pace. Philander nipped the ball both ways from a bothersome length to trap the hitters if Steyn contested both edges and Morkel softened them with a steep bounce.

In 2018, Shastri was the Indian team’s head coach during a 1-2 loss. With 15 wickets in that series, Philander was among the best players. In 2019, Philander declared his retirement. The brilliant spinner claimed 224 wickets at an incredible average of 22 in his 64 Test matches.

“We would have beaten South Africa at least twice when I came here but for this fellow. We’ve seen Rabada’s record and Ngidi’s record. Take a look at his record as well against India. He always gets the important wickets when we don’t want one to fall,” Ravi Shastri said.

The only nation where India hasn’t yet won a Test series is South Africa. In 23 attempts, they have only won four Tests. Regarding this two-match series, in the first Test at SuperSport Park in Centurion, South Africa won the toss and elected to send India in to bat. Due to wet areas on the pitch, which had been covered since Sunday when 51mm of rain was reported, the play was delayed by thirty minutes.

Rohit Sharma, the captain of India, stated that he was unsure of whether he preferred to bowl or bat. Fast bowler Prasidh Krishna was awarded his maiden Test cap by India, and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was picked ahead of left-armer Ravindra Jadeja, who, according to Sharma, had a spasm in his neck earlier in the morning.