Apart from Rohit, another big dilemma for Indian cricket team will be whether to continue with Rishabh Pant as a wicketkeeper or give Wriddhiman Saha a go.
Rohit Sharma is easily one of the best Indian batsmen in the shortest format. The right-handed batsman scored four tons in the World Cup. But despite his plaudits, he was not picked for the two Tests against West Indies. After a flop show from KL Rahul, the selectors have finally decided to give Sharma a go as a Test opener. This is his, perhaps, final chance to cement a place in the Test team.
Apart from Sharma, another big dilemma for Indian cricket team will be whether to continue with Rishabh Pant as a wicketkeeper or give Wriddhiman Saha a go. In Jasprit Bumrah’s absence, Virat Kohli & Co. will also have to test out a few bowling combinatios.
Here are our predicted XI for India’s first Test against South Africa:
Mayank Agarwal: Mayank Agarwal had a patch tour to West Indies, where he could not find consistency. Back in familiar conditions in India, where he has scored over 1,000 runs in a calendar year in domestic cricket, the opener could truly shine and cement his spot in the team, for good.
Rohit Sharma: This is a massive challenge for Rohit Sharma. He has been picked as India’s opener in the absence of out-of-form KL Rahul and out of contention Prithvi Shaw. The batsman will be eager to cement his place in the Test team.
Cheteshwar Pujara: Cheteshwar Pujara had a flop show in West Indies. But, he will definitely be included in the Test team against South Africa, against whom he enjoys a good record.
Virat Kohli: Skipper Virat Kohli will be hoping to do better than he did in West Indies in the longest forrmat, where he could not score a single ton. Against Kagiso Rabada and Co., though, it might be more difficult.
Ajinkya Rahane: Ajinkya Rahane showcased why he can be india’s most dependable batsman on his return to the team against West Indies. The batsman scored two fifties and a ton in the series. He will look to continue the same form against South Africa.
Hanuma Vihari: Hanuma Vihari has become India’s new star in Test cricket, after a stupendous show in West Indies. Vihari, who scored a ton, and three fifites in the series, will hope to carry on from where he had left.
Rishabh Pant: India face a tough choice between an out of form Rishabh Pant, and the returning Wriddhiman Saha, as their wicketkeeper-batsman choice. Pant might get another chance, at least in the first Test, but it could be a do-or-die opportunity for him.
Ravindra Jadeja: Another big dilemma for India would be the obvious choice between Ravindra Jadeja or R Ashwin as the bowling allrounder in the team. Since Kohli went with Jadeja in West Indies, and the left-arm spinner did little to shake the team’s faith in him, it is highly likely Ashwin will have to sit out again.
Mohammed Shami: Mohammed Shami has often been surrounded by controversies since last year. But the right-arm bowler has not let any of it affect his bowling form, which somehow has peaked amid tough personal situation.
Umesh Yadav: Another huge choice for India would be to decide whether they would go with three seamers and one spinner combination or two spinners and two seamers combination. If Jasprit Bumrah was fit and playing, the choice would have been obvious. But with Umesh Yadav replacing Bumrah, India might have to think between Kuldeep Yadav or Umesh. In the first Test, the latter might come victorious.
Ishant Sharma: Ishant Sharma has grown as a fast bowler with his age, and has also started leading India’s attack. In Bumrah’s absence, Kohli will rely on him to dictate bowling plans.