South Africa vs India 2018: Ravi Shastri sheds light on India's bowling combination for Test series
What's the story?
Head coach Ravi Shastri has shed light on India's possible bowling combination for their upcoming Test series against South Africa. Alluding to the presence of a viable seam all rounder like Hardik Pandya, the 55-year old backed the seasoned spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja to play together unless exceptionally green tracks greet the visitors.
Shastri revealed, "It's very, very difficult. Two outstanding bowlers - Number one and two (actually, number three and four) in the world. They bring you variety. Once we go there, we will see the conditions. We might still play two spinners and three fast bowlers."
He elaborated, "That's what Hardik gives you. He gives you that kind of balance that is much needed. (India) might still go in with five which could include two spinners unless it's a real green top, which is very likely then you go with a four and one combination. It will be tough one to choose between the two. That Virat (Kohli) can decide."
In the past...
During India's previous tour of South Africa in 2013, Ashwin's inadequate performance in the Johannesburg Test saw him lose his spot in the playing eleven to Jadeja during the subsequent match at Durban. The left-arm spinner picked up six wickets from a marathon effort comprising 58.2 overs in the first-innings.
The heart of the matter
Since then, both Ashwin and Jadeja have grown by leaps and bounds in the Test arena. Although the proliferation of flatter tracks have seen them cede their places to Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal in the limited-overs formats, the experienced spin duo remain the fulcrum of India's recent dominance in Test cricket.
Currently ranked number three and four in ICC's rankings for Test bowlers, Jadeja and Ashwin could compete with one another should the team management decide to go in with just one specialist spinner in South Africa.
Alongside the two spinners and pace all-rounder Pandya, India's bowling arsenal for the forthcoming Test series also consists of Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and the uncapped Jasprit Bumrah.
The opening match of the eagerly awaited Test series between South Africa and India will begin on January 5 at Cape Town. With the visitors already opting out of the sole warm-up match, they will have to make do with internal training sessions. The touring contingent will depart for South Africa on December 27.
Considering that India's seamers may also come into play on a greater basis, South Africa may remain averse to rolling out doctored green tops. If the pitches are even reasonably good for batting, the visitors should field five bowling options to maximise their chances of picking 20 wickets. In such case, only one of Ashwin and Jadeja must make the cut.