Ishant Sharma
Ishant Sharma (Credits: Twitter)

As Mohammad Siraj faced a hamstring injury at Johannesburg, India is in a selection dilemma for his possible replacement. Ishant’s height factor makes him a very tempting option but his recent form has been poor so Umesh Yadav might get a nod ahead of him. While the other likely change in the XI will be the skipper Virat Kohli replacing Hanuma Vihari as he has recovered from a back spasm.

Ishant Sharma
Ishant Sharma[Image-Twitter]

Ishant picked only 14 wickets in 8 Tests last year

In the second test, the hosts made a strong comeback as the skipper Dean Elgar led from the front to get a 7-wicket win to level the series by 1-1 as the decider will take place in Cape Town from January 11.

As India will be chasing their first series win in South Africa, they need to get their pace combination right. Indian pace attack couldn’t exploit much on a helpful surface at the Wanderers. India coach Rahul Dravid pointed out that India missed a tall pace bowler who could have exploited the uneven bounce of that surface.

“It felt to us that sitting outside, quite a few balls (bowled by SA pacers) kicked up and hit the batters on gloves. You expect the same when your bowlers are bowling. Just felt like the ball seemed to have misbehaved a little more for them and could be because of height. It is because on an “up and down” (variable bounce) wicket, it can happen because of that extra height, tends to make little difference. Obviously, it did not misbehave as much as it did for them,” Rahul Dravid spoke in a post-match press conference at Johannesburg.

Umesh Yadav. (AP Photo)
Umesh Yadav. (AP Photo)

So Ishant Sharma is the frontrunner to get into XI for Cape Town Test. Though his recent form is pretty average. In last year he picked only 14 wickets in 8 Tests with an average of 32.71. His record in South Africa isn’t encouraging either as he picked 20 wickets in 7 tests in South Africa.

On other side, Umesh Yadav who never played a Test in South Africa despite travelling with the team in the last 3 tours, might put his case strongly as the pacer picked 6 wickets against England in a historic win for India at the Oval last year.

Another change might be straightforward as Virat Kohli is likely to replace Hanuma Vihari. Though there are criticisms over the form of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane but the fifties in the second innings by the duo might save their places at least for another test. Though Vihari looked good in the Johannesburg test as he scored a gritty unbeaten 40 in the second innings.

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