South Africa are all set to confront India to start their Test series campaign on November 5, Punjab Cricket Association stadium, Mohali. The first Test match of the four-match series will start tomorrow (Wednesday) in Mohali. South African bowling spearhead Dale Steyn in a press conference on Tuesday said they have sorted out special plans for Indian players. South Africa will be upbeat when they take the PCA stadium as they have won the T20 series and ODI series in India for the first time. Along with this South Africa has been invincible on foreign field as they did not lose any Test series since 2006.
So, notwithstanding, Virat Kohli, who will make his home debut as a captain, will not get an easy time as most of the South African players have a good understanding of Indian pitches. So, on the eve of the first match of the gruelling Test series Sportzwiki reliving three combinations that Virat Kohli and Indian team management can try to outdo South Africa’s swansong in this tour.
Combination 1: 6 batsmen, 3 spinners and 2 pacers
In this the combination Virat Kohli will ploy three specialist spinners against South African batsmen. Shikhar Dhawan will commence the innings with Murali Vijay. But, KL Rahul could be a reasonable option over out of form Dhawan, but as wicketkeeper Saha has been suffering from fever India have no other option but to select the playing XI keeping Dhawan in the team as an experienced player. And Rahul likely to make the playing XI as a wicketkeeper-batsman. However, India’s the top order is yet to fixed. The problem area is No. 3 batting. With Cheteshwar Pujara has done remarkably well in the SSC, Colombo Test as an opener now will vie for a slot in the team with Rohit Sharma. Ajinkya Rahane can play at No.3 while captain Virat Kohli will come at No.4. Now the question is who will make the playing eleven Pujara or Rohit. This is one of the key questions that might trouble Indian team management. Pujara is the longest form of the game is the best choice over Rohit. So, Pujara should get priority over Rohit. At the same time where should Rahul bat? It seems the current batting department looks messy.
However, the bowling department looks rather strong. With Ravichandran Ashwin back in the action and the Mohali pitch was seen dry Ravindra Jadeja, who produced remarkable spells in Ranji trophy to get his Test berth, and Amit Mishra will be men to watch out for. The pace bowling department will be comprised of Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav.
Team: Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli (c), Cheteshwar Pujara, KL Rahul (wk), R. Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav
Combination 2: 5 batsmen, 1 all rounder and 3 spinners and 2 pacers
In this combination, India can strengthen their bowling line up to outclass South African batting department. AB de Villiers will be the batsman whom Indian bowlers have to stop. At the same time Kagiso Rabada, the 20-year-old bowling sensation, will make his debut. So he will try to come hard on Indian batsmen. He will provide solid assistance to Dale Steyn, who has the ability to manipulate his bowling even on a dead pitch, and Morken Morkel. On the other hand leg-spinner, Imran Tahir and Simon Harmer can dash India’s hope.
But this combination has a chance to get attention from Indian team because wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha is unlikely to play the first Test as he has been suffering from fever. So India have to play their available six batsmen. However, India can drop two batsmen from the playing XI to strengthen the bowling department. As the selection of Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwars Pujara has become a headache, India can drop both Pujara and Rohit and pick up Stuart Binny. Binny has bowled well in the SSC, Colombo Test. So, he can add strength to bowling department and can provide assistance to the batting department.
The other two spinners will be R Ashwin and Amit Mishra, and the pace department will be comprised of Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav.
Team: Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli (c), KL Rahul (wk), Stuart Binny, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav
Combination 3: 6 batsmen, 2 allrounders, 1 spinner and 2 pacer
In this combination KL Rahul will replace out of form Shikhar Dhawan and will open the innings with Murali Vijay while Cheteshwar Pujara will come at No. 3, followed by that Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma, whom should team management keep in the team considering his ODI form against the visitor, will come to bat. Selection of all-rounder, Ravindra Jadeja will provide India’s batting and bowling department handy assistance. Jadeja, who has produced outstanding performance in Ranji Trophy matches for Saurashtra, will be the man to watch out for. R. Ashwin is expected would be the most effective bowler for India can help with the bat as well.
During the Sri Lanka Test series, it was seen that Indian lower order, especially Amit Mishra managed to add some important run to India’s total that helped India to get handy first innings lead over the host.
So, this combination could be the ideal option for India while they will take on upbeat South Africa lead by Hashim Amla.
Team: KL Rahul (wk), Murali Vijay, Chesteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav