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India vs South Africa 2019: 3 opening pairs India could try in the Test series

ANALYST
Feature
29 Sep 2019, 21:15 IST

Rohit Sharma.
Rohit Sharma.

The Freedom Trophy series is back, and there is a lot at stake with the ICC World Test Championship in play. South Africa are one of those teams who have tasted success in Test Cricket in the subcontinent.

Especially against India, they have won a series (1999) & drawn two series (2007/08 & 2009/10 respectively) to date. On the other hand, Team India is on a roll from the last few years. Under the leadership of Virat Kohli, India has maintained the number one position in Test cricket from October 2016. Thus, it has become the team to defeat in the longest format. Although the South African team is undergoing a transition period with the retirement of its senior players, they never go down without a fight. 

The last time South Africa toured India for a four-match series in 2015/16, India had the clear upper hand with three wins. This time, the visitors will definitely look to reverse their fortunes. Team India is back from a month-long successful Caribbean tour to start fresh at home. Both the teams have announced their squads & are ready for a fight. However, both teams have their concerns too & will look to address them in the series. South Africa will look to stabilize its middle-order batting whereas India has its biggest concern at the top of the order. 

In their last three series, team India failed to find a stable opening combination. The likes of Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Prithvi Shaw, & Mayank Agarwal were tried at the top order but no pair looked promising. Indian selector MSK Prasad & the team management have now turned towards Rohit Sharma to open in the Test Cricket for India. But there is ambiguity in the decision regarding the opening combinations for Team India in the Gandhi-Mandela series starting from October 2. Let us look at three possible opening pairs Team India can play for the first Test Match. 


#1 Mayank Agarwal & Rohit Sharma


Mayank Agarwal and Rohit Sharma.
Mayank Agarwal and Rohit Sharma.

Mayank Agarwal burst into the national team with a truckload of runs under his belt in the domestic circuit. His 2,141 runs across all formats in 2017-18 is the highest total by any batsman in an Indian domestic season. Injury of young Prithvi Shaw on the Australian tour brought Mayank into the squad for the opening slot in December 2018. His boxing-day debut innings of 76 runs showed his ability & skill. 

Rohit Sharma is a popular & experienced player in white-ball cricket. However, Rohit has never achieved the same level of sucess in the longest format. With just 27 Test matches under his belt, Rohit has an average of 39 with three centuries to his name. The selectors' decision of trying Rohit at the top order in whites is purely an experiment, but Rohit will look to re-establish himself as a Test player. 

The combination of Rohit and Mayank may not give that right & left combination that teams desire but might end up as a blessing in disguise for Team India if the two gel well.

Also see - India vs South Africa schedule 2019

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