If India were hoping for a reprieve from fast and bouncy wickets in SA in the second Test starting on Saturday, they will not find it at Centurion, a ground where the home side have a formidable record.
SA romped to a 72-run victory in the first Test of the three-game series at Newlands on Monday, a match that effectively needed just three days to be completed with one lost to rain.
The Centurion wicket is likely to be similar, with perhaps not the same sideways movement of Newlands, and will provide another test of the Indian batsmen’s bravery against a seam bowling barrage.
Vernon Philander looked at times unplayable in Cape Town, while the new leading bowler in Test cricket, Kagiso Rabada, brings plenty of pace, fire and skill. He took 13 wickets in a Test against England at the venue two years ago.
Morné Morkel will be the third seamer, with Chris Morris likely to play in place of the injured Dale Steyn. He will also strengthen the batting.
There have been murmurings that SA may even select a fifth seamer and leave spinner Keshav Maharaj on the sidelines, with Duanne Olivier, Andile Phehlukwayo and uncapped Lungi Ngidi in the squad to offer that option.
We have to get stuck in and be tough with the bat and the ball; get in their faces a bit and use our physicality in terms of our pace
"In this series and for the rest of the summer, we will be looking to see how best we can fit four fast bowlers into whatever formula we come up with," SA coach Ottis Gibson said this week. "When you are playing at home, you must play to your strengths. If you want to beat the best team in the world, which India are, then maybe we have to do something slightly different to what we’ve done in the past.
"We have to get stuck in and be tough with the bat and the ball; get in their faces a bit and use our physicality in terms of our pace."
India know what is coming and their success will be determined by how they handle the threat. They managed a match aggregate of 344 over their two innings in Cape Town and captain Virat Kohli has told his batsmen to take the attack to the home side. "We need to have intent because of the kind of bowling attack they have."
SA have recorded 17 wins and three draws in their 22 Tests at Centurion. Four of their past six wins have been by an innings, including against India in 2010, and the other two by more than 200 runs.
Proteas opening batsman Aiden Markram said both sides had to find a way to manage the brief period between Tests.
"We do not have many days to prepare for the second match but I still don’t think there is a lot to change going into Saturday.
"For both sides‚ it is more about making sure that we keep things nice and fresh."
Having failed to score big against India in his first real Test following impressive showings against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe‚ the Titans batsman said he hoped home ground advantage would work in his favour.
"I am very excited because this is a ground where I grew up at and watched lots of cricket. It is going to be an exciting week for me, which is something that I am really looking forward to.
Reuters, additional reporting by Mahlatse Mphahlele