It was at this very ground that the Indian Test team endured its last batting collapse at home.
India will look to build on their impressive home record and wrap up the series early as they take on South Africa at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune for the 2nd Test starting on October 10. India proved too tough for South Africa who lost the 1st Test by 203 runs and now stare at a possible series defeat in just their second match in the World Test Championship.
India on the other hand will be looking to improve on what can be described as a near-perfect performance at Visakhapatnam in the 1st Test. Virat Kohli's team were dominant in all departments against the Proteas and will want to build on that display.
It is difficult to improve upon a perfect show but trust Kohli to find a new challenge for his team in his pursuit of excellence.
It certainly won't be a bad idea against an opposition which doesn't have the wherewithal to pose consistent challenge over five days.
Rohit Sharma 2.0's blockbuster re-entry into Test arena as an opener with twin hundreds was a calculated punt, that worked wonderfully well first up for Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri.
With Mayank Agarwal also showing signs of making every chance count, as he did with his maiden double hundred in Visakhapatnam, India's opening woes at least (in home conditions) for the next four Tests (two vs Bangladesh next month) could be history for the time being.
The heavy duty batting line-up that also includes Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Hanuma Vihari would look to make a heftier contribution if the pitch at the Gahunje Stadium aids batsmen.
It was at this very ground that the Indian Test team endured its last batting collapse at home, against Australia in 2017 on a rank turner where off-spinner Nathan Lyon made lives miserable.
Chances are slim that a pitch of that nature will be on offer for the upcoming game and even if curator Pandurang Salgaokar offers anything remotely close, chances of India, armed with two seasoned spinners in Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, might finish it off in less than four days.
The dogged Dean Elgar and the elegant Quinton de Kock have shown a lot of character with their hundreds in the first Test but chances of a Steve Smith like 2017 batting masterclass on a dodgy track may not be possible.
Ashwin, with a match haul of eight wickets, and Jadeja, with his all-round solidity, give this team a menacing look in home conditions.
Also Mohammed Shami's mastery with the semi new and old ball on dry tracks is slowly attaining legendary status.
One can only hope that Shami remains niggle-free as he was seen hobbling on his run-up in the first innings in Visakhapatnam even though it became better in the second innings.
Ishant Sharma was also steady during both the innings without being spectacular.
Such was their impact that Jasprit Bumrah was hardly missed despite his phenomenal presence in red ball cricket over the last 18 months.
While India, unless forced by any unforeseen injury, are unlikely to change their playing XI, the South Africans might be tempted to drop one among Senuran Muthusamy and Dane Piedt, who were taken to the cleaners by the Indian batsmen.
Rohit was especially hard on them and hit a world record 13 sixes in the game.
It could well be Muthusamy and in that case batsman Zubayr Hamza may get a look in.
If Piedt is dropped, the Proteas could be tempted to try Lungi Ngidi, who could make a difference with his pace and movement.
In any case, it will be an uphill battle for the visitors.
IND vs SA Possible XI:
India XI: Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Chesteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha (WK), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami.
South Africa XI: Aiden Markram, Dean Elgar, Theunis de Bruyn, Temba Bavuma, Francois du Plessis (C), Zubayr Hamza, Quinton de Kock (WK), Senuran Muthusamy, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi.
Where to Watch: The India vs South Africa Test series will be telecast live on the Star Sports Network. TV users can catch the action on Star Sports 1, Star Sports HD1, Star Sports 2 and Star Sports HD2 channels. Online users can also stream the matches live on Hotstar.
Match Timings: The India vs South Africa 2nd Test match will begin at 9:30 AM IST on all five days. The Toss is scheduled to take place at 9:00 AM IST.
Weather Forecast for Pune: The Indian Meteorological Department have predicted intense spells of rainfall spanning 20-30 minutes with some thunderstorm activity over the next 72 hours in Pune. However, with the outfield at the MCA stadium being sand-based, the game could restart within just 20 minutes after rain.
IND vs SA 2nd Test Pitch Report: Back in 2017, following the maiden Test at this venue the pitch drew criticism as Australia wrapped up the match in three days with Nathan Lyon giving the Indian batsmen nightmares with the amount of turn on offer. This time around the pitch is expected to play much better offering equal opportunity to both batsmen and bowlers.
Players to watch out for:
The 'Hitman' was named Man of the Match in the first Test after making a record-breaking start to life as a Test opener. Rohit scored centuries in both innings while also smacking 13 sixes in the match and it will be interesting to see what plan South Africa come up with to deal with the in-form batsman.
Faf du Plessis
The South African skipper is leading a side with quite a few inexperienced faces and will hope to lead from the front as they look to stage a comeback in the series. du Plessis scored a fighting half-century in the first innings and was undone by a Shami 'Jaffa' in the second innings.
Betting Odds (betway)
South Africa: 10.00
Other bets on the match can be checked on Cricket Betting.(With PTI inputs)The Great Diwali Discount!
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