New Delhi -
India's red-hot spinner Ravichandran Ashwin will look to pile on the
agony for South Africa in the final Test in New Delhi starting on Thursday on a
pitch expected to cause more problems for the tourists.
The 29-year-old has risen to number two in
the world rankings following his heroics in last week's third Test in Nagpur
when he recorded match figures of 12 for 98, giving India an unassailable 2-0
Ashwin has taken 55 wickets since the start
of the year, more than anyone else in Test cricket, and has been near
unplayable on the rank turners that have bamboozled South Africa's stellar
"He is a world class spinner, probably
the best in the world right now," India captain Virat Kohli said in the
aftermath of Ashwin's performance in Nagpur.
"He's stepped up in a big way for us,
even in (the last series against) Sri Lanka. He is one of the main reasons why
we've been able to win back-to-back series."
Both India's victories in Nagpur and Mohali
have been wrapped up inside three days, and South Africa were also bowled out
cheaply in their only innings in the rain-affected second Test in Bangalore
which was drawn.
The Proteas' most reliable batsmen, Hashim
Amla and A B de Villiers, have managed one half century between them in the
series while no one has made a century.
The likes of Dean Elgar, Stiaan van Zyl and
Faf du Plessis, who are all on their first tour of India, have fared little
Amla has admitted that it has been a
struggle for the batsmen in conditions he says have been some of the most
challenging he has ever faced.
"I think the wickets have played their
part in making it very difficult for all the batters," said the South
While they remain the world's number one
Test team, the tourists have had to endure the disappointment of losing their
first series abroad in nine years.
While they will be desperate to avoid a 3-0
scoreline, the Ferozeshah Kotla pitch is expected to pose similar challenges
for the Proteas who have struggled to produce a top-class spinner of their own.
"I would hope the one in Delhi is
absolutely the same. I have no qualms about it," the Indian team director
Ravi Shastri told the Cricinfo website, saying it was up to batsmen to adjust
"Which rule tells me that a ball can't
turn on day one? Where does it tell me in the rule book it can only swing and
South Africa's cause has not been helped by
the absence of their pace spearhead Dale Steyn, the only bowler above Ashwin in
the world rankings.
Steyn, nursing a groin strain, has bowled
just 11 overs in the series and it looks unlikely the visitors will risk him in
a dead rubber.
The performance of Steyn's usual strike
partner Morne Morkel has been one of the few bright spots for the visitors and
he was the pick of the South African bowlers in Nagpur.
While India's line-up is expected to be
unchanged, South Africa could be tempted to hand back-up seamers Kyle Abbott
and Marchant de Lange a chance to impress ahead of the upcoming home series
against England and give Kagiso Rabadagive a rest.