India vs South Africa 2019: Rohit Sharma set to open as selectors announce squad for Test series
What's the story?
The BCCI have announced the squad for the upcoming Gandhi-Mandela Trophy against South Africa at home. The big news, however, is that chief selector MSK Prasad has stated they would like to try Rohit Sharma as an opener in Test cricket.
In case you didn't know...
The three-match Test series will begin at the ACA-VDCA Stadium in Visakhapatnam from October 2, followed by the second and third matches in Pune and Ranchi from October 10 and 19 respectively. This will be India's second Test series under the newly introduced ICC World Test Championship.
The heart of the matter
Shubman Gill has earned his maiden call-up to the Test squad, after scoring 90 and 5 in the first unofficial Test against South Africa A. Gill has played 14 first-class games and has scored 1443 runs at an average of 72.15.
The big name missing from the squad is KL Rahul, who has been dropped due to his poor form in red-ball cricket. Since his second innings century against England in The Oval last year, Rahul has struggled to score big and failed to register a single half-century.
He did score 44 and 38 against West Indies in the first Test in August, but couldn't do anything noteworthy in the second match.
Rohit has retained his place in the squad, but more importantly Prasad has hinted that the Mumbai batsman will be promoted to the top of the order instead of being made to play in his customary No. 6 position.
Jasprit Bumrah, meanwhile, is set to play his first Test on home soil after making a huge name for himself overseas. Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami are the other two pacers selected in the squad.
The usual spin trio of Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav has been picked, while Rishabh Pant is likely to be the first choice wicketkeeper ahead of Wriddhiman Saha (who is also part of the squad).
Squad: Virat Kohli (captain), Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Shubman Gill
Rohit hasn't exactly set the Test stage on fire in the middle order, so it will be interesting to see if his fortunes change at the opener's slot. India have been struggling to find a reliable batsman at the top of the order for the last couple of years, so this is a huge opportunity for the limited overs great to cement a place for himself in the Test side.