India are set to lock horns with South Africa in a three-match Test series, starting from December 26 in Centurion. The Virat Kohli-led side has a perfect blend of youngsters as well as experienced players who will leave no stone unturned to mark the first series win in South Africa.
Notably, Team India suffered a massive blow when Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja suffered an injury before the team left for South Africa, and Priyanka Panchal was picked as a replacement.
As Rahul Dravid said in the pre-match press conference that the start of the series is going to be vital and could play a decisive factor in terms of the psyche of players, the head coach and skipper will have to find a perfect balance before they step on the field.
SportsTiger has made an attempt to figure out the possible XI which could represent the country in a high-anticipated series opener.
Top Order: KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara
In Rohit’s absence, Rahul and Agarwal are the best options to start the innings for Team India. The team will be hoping the best from both the players as giving a good start to the team will play a vital role in the match. At number 3, Pujara has a lot to prove as he is under the scanner and a lot of his critics have written him off but a series could be decisive for his career and if he delivers as per his talent, the team will be in a better position throughout the series.
Middle Order: Virat Kohli, Hanuma Vihari and Rishabh Pant
Needless to say, Kohli is one player who can turn around the game by his own performance. As Rahul Dravid said in the pre-match press conference, Kohli’s performance could be a decisive factor. Although, Kohli will be leading the team too but in recent times, his own performance has made less noise, unlike everyone’s expectation.
Vihari has spent the last month with India A squad in South Africa and has been one of the most consistent performers with the bat for the Indian team. If India decides to play six batsmen against the Proteas, Vihari could find himself back in the playing XI as his off-spin will give Kohli another bowling option.
Rishabh Pant has emerged as one of the most dynamic young players for Team India and has earned appreciation even from BCCI President Sourabh Ganguly. His hard-hitting batting and spectacular hand in gloves behind stumps impressed many and since then he has been considered an important part of the team.
All-rounders: R. Ashwin and Shardul Thakur
Ravichandran Ashwin is an integral part of the team and Kohli will have a lot of expectations from him. His wicket-taking capability in crucial situations can turn the match in India’s favour.
Shardul Thakur has impressed everyone with his bowling as well as batting. In the absence of a regular all-rounder like Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul will have to play an important part and could play a crucial part in the team’s good performance.
Bowlers: Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, Mohammad Siraj
Bumrah is regarded as one of the best in world cricket and his toe wrecking yorkers are the deadliest weapon, skipper Kohli has. He has been phenomenal with his bowling and he has provided some much-needed breakthroughs to his skipper. Due to his impressive performance, he was one of three players retained by Mumbai Indians for an upcoming IPL season.
Mohammad Shami will bring some experience in the bowling attack and he has performed well too. His inclusion in the team will be vital as he has proven to be economical for the team and could give much-needed support to Bumrah.
Mohammad Siraj is fierce and he has the kind of aggression in his character and displays the same in his bowls too. He will have a lot of eyes on him as his performance can bring the game in the team’s favour.