India v South Africa 2019: Likely first-team eleven for the hosts in the first Test
Team India is scheduled to play T20I and Test series of three matches each against South Africa from 15 September. The Proteas have not won a Test series on Indian soil after their only Test series triumph in India under Hansie Cronje back in 2000. India, who remained invincible during their last tour to West Indies, will be on high confidence. The youngster - Shubman Gill - has been rewarded with a place in the senior team for churning-out runs a consistent basis in the domestic circuit.
KL Rahul has been dropped because of poor returns despite being given a long run. Umesh Yadav, who bagged a 10-wicket haul in India's last home match, is left out of the squad. The Indian squad for the Test series is given below –
India's squad for 3 Tests: Virat Kohli (Capt), Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (VC), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Shubman Gill
In this article, we will take a look at the playing XI which India may field in the first Test match.
#1. Top-order (Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara)
Mayank Agarwal, the opening batsman, was awarded a spot in the Indian team in December 2018 for scoring a mountain of runs in the domestic circuit. Agarwal, who came as a replacement for Prithvi Shaw during the Australian tour, is being looked at as a long-term prospect now. The 28-year-old batsman from Karnataka has scored three fifties in just seven innings, he has only played away from home – in Australia and West Indies.
“Want to give Rohit Sharma an opportunity to open the innings in Tests,” are the words of chief selector MSK Prasad on selecting Rohit Sharma as an opener for the Test series.
India has had opening woes in the longest format of the game. And, they gambled with a white-ball specialist to solve their opening conundrum. Rohit, who made his Test debut in 2013, has represented India in 27 Tests and has an average of over 39 with three centuries to his name. The 32-year-old batsman is yet to cement his spot in the Test team permanently and will look to get big runs under his belt.
Cheteshwar Pujara, who was in the form of his life during the Australian series, didn’t have a good time in the series against West Indies as he could manage to achieve an aggregate of just 60 runs in four innings. The 31-year-old batsman is one of India’s batting pillars, especially at home, where he averages about 62 with 10 tons and 14 fifties.
The right-handed batsman from Gujarat averages just 33.36 against South Africa in India, which is the lowest against any nation at home (minimum two innings). Thus, Pujara will try to improve his record against South Africa and also to contribute significantly to his team.
Also see – World Test Championship Schedule