After playing overseas Test series’ for about a year, Team India will be geared up for yet another grand home season. To kickstart, they have a familiar opponent, South Africa who was beaten badly in their previous Test series in India.
Can South Africa turn the tables and surprise Kohli’s men? On the other hand, Kohli and company will look to consolidate their dominance at the top of the Test team rankings and at the same time will look to earn crucial points in the Test championship.
A major worry for both camps will be their playing XIs. South Africa is still searching for batsmen who can adapt to the challenges of Test cricket and survive India’s spin threat while India have a problem of plenty as too many contenders are auditioning for limited spots.
Here we look at how India and South Africa would line up for the first Test.
He may have bagged a duck in the practice game but Rohit Sharma will still walk out with Mayank Agarwal to open the innings. This is undoubtedly a massive moment in Sharma’s career as well as Indian cricket.
The middle-order will consist of familiar names with Cheteshwar Pujara, Kohli and Rahane at 03, 04 and 05 respectively. Hanuma Vihari with his man of the series performance against Windies has cemented his place at number 06 but the key question is who will stand behind the stumps, Rishabh Pant or Wriddhiman Saha. It seems Pant might get another chance to prove himself.
Meanwhile, R Ashwin who spent considerable time in the sidelines will finally get a game and he could be assisted by Ravindra Jadeja. Ishant Sharma too will be in the playing XI and Kohli would prefer Mohammad Shami over Umesh Yadav.
India playing XI: Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant, R Ashwin, R Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, M Shami.
The combination of Markram and Elgar is a promising one and the tourists will hope they deliver. TB de Bruyn and Hamza should make the cut too as they deserve an opportunity. Bavuma, Faf and de Kock in the lower middle order will bring the solidarity and expectations will be high especially from Bavuma.
The bowling remains a big worry as South Africa need a bankable spinner to challenge India. Keshav Maharaj should be their premier option and Dane Piedt would be the other spinner.
The pace department will be handled by the reliable duo of Rabada and Philander. But will they make an impact will be the question.
South Africa playing XI: AK Markram, Dean Elgar, TB de Bruyn, Zubayr Hamza, T Bavuma, F du Plessis, Q de Kock, VD Philander, K Maharaj, Dane Piedt, K Rabada.