India A and South Africa A will cross swords in the first of three unofficial Tests, starting Tuesday, November 23 at Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein.
India A, led by Priyank Panchal, have a power-packed squad at their disposal. Ishan Kishan is fresh from playing in the IPL, the T20 World Cup and the T20I series against New Zealand. Devdutt Padikkal and Prithvi Shaw didn’t play the mega event in the UAE, but are bright prospects.
Abhimanyu Easwaran brings in a lot of experience as well at the top of the order. Sarfaraz Khan has fallen down the pecking order after impressing in the early part of his career, but has a chance to make amends. Baba Aparajith and Hanuma Vihari are expected to lend solidity to the middle order.
Rahul Chahar and Deepak Chahar are also fresh from playing international cricket. The focus will also be on Umran Malik, who cranked up a fair amount of pace for the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL. Navdeep Saini and Ishan Porel also need to make inroads into the opposition batting.
South Africa, led by Pieter Malan, is a strong team as well. George Linde has a fair amount of experience playing for the senior team and the onus will be on him, both with the bat and the ball. Marco Jansen played in the first leg of the IPL 2021 and his confidence should be high as well.
Senuran Muthusamy is more than a handy all-rounder and the focus will be on him as well. Migael Pretorius and Beuran Hendricks are most likely to lead the bowling attack. Lutho Sipamla is also a highly talented fast bowler and the series is a chance for him to show his class.
Can India A come up trumps?
India A have a strong and well-balanced team for red-ball matches. They seem the stronger of the two teams without much of a doubt. A number of their players have played a significant amount of international cricket.
South Africa A, on the contrary, aren’t the weakest of teams and they are expected to give a fight. Although India A have experience on their side, they may struggle to eke out a result in a four-day match.
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Prediction: The match will end in a draw.