In the opening match of the Test series against South Africa starting on December 26, it will be interesting to see whether skipper Virat Kohli takes to the field with five fast bowlers including all-rounder Shardul Thakur or an additional batsman in Ajinkya Rahane on the bouncy pitches. will be given a chance. A strong contender for the batting option would also be Hanuma Vihari, who recently toured South Africa with the India A team.
The Indian team has been practicing at Centurion’s SuperSport Park for the past three days and Cricket South Africa (CSA) has given the guests a chance to practice at the main stadium of the ground. In SENA countries (South Africa, England, New Zealand, Australia) the opportunity to practice on the main wicket before a Test match is rarely available.
In a short video posted by BCCI, head coach Rahul Dravid mentioned the benefits of practicing on the main pitch, while middle-order batsman Shreyas Iyer talked about practicing on the grassy pitch. Strategically, Kohli is considered an aggressive captain and prefers to play Test matches with five bowlers. Left-arm all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja offers a great batting option in the seventh order, but in his absence, Shardul can take up the responsibility.
MSK Prasad, former chairman of the selection committee, said, “I think if the team goes with five bowlers, then Shardul is the best option because he also gives the option of batting at the seventh order and we have Ravichandran Ashwin also.” The place of four bowlers in the team is almost fixed, in which the names of Jasprit Bumrah, Muhammad Shami, Ashwin and Muhammad Siraj come. I don’t think Ishant will be preferred over Siraj in the team considering the current rhythm.
Centurion is a place which is situated at an altitude of 1300 meters above sea level. Here bowlers can get tired quickly and in case of four bowlers they are more likely to get tired. In the case of an extra batsman, the experienced Rahane will have a stronger claim than Vihari. Vihari was not a part of the Test series against New Zealand played in India. He came on the South Africa tour with the A team. He played three half-centuries against South Africa-A with scores of 54, 72 not out and 63 respectively. However, Rahane may get another chance to prove his mettle.
Possible combination of India:
10 Assured (Based on Fitness): Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (Captain), Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (WK), Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Muhammad Siraj
11th player: Shadural Thakur / Ajinkya Rahane / Hanuma Vihari (any one of the three)