India captain Virat Kohli won the toss and opted to bat first in the series opening first Test against South Africa in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday.
India had already named their playing XI on Tuesday with Rohit Sharma set to open while wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha makes his comeback since last playing a Test in January 2018, replacing Rishabh Pant. Ravichandran Ashwin will also play his first Test in 2019 after having been overlooked in the playing XIs for the West Indies tour.
For South Africa, captain Faf du Plessis has opted to go with two pacers and three spinners keeping in mind the spin-friendly conditions the tourists are likely to face. Senuran Muthusamy will make his debut.
Kohli, who feels the pitch to be batting friendly for the first two days, says it’s a good opportunity for Rohit to stake his claim. “Nature of the pitch is that it’ll get slower after that. Great opportunity for Rohit at the top of the order. He’s excited to get the role clarity. It’s a new opportunity for him,” he said at the toss.
Kohli says India were waiting for the time to bring in Saha who had been included in the squad for the West Indies Tests but didn’t get a game. “According to me, Saha is the best keeper in the world. We were waiting for the right moment to bring him back,” he said.
Du Plessis touched upon the retirement of experienced South Africans in the past year or so saying it’s going to be a challenge for the fresh faces in the squad. “Our coin toss record in the subcontinent isn’t the best. First innings is going to be very important. We’ve lost a few Test players, even in the last year or so. Fresh start for a lot of new faces. Very young group. Nice challenge for us. These guys will be the next Dale Steyns and the next Hashim Amlas. Good to be at the start of the journey for them, have to try and play a mentorship role to get them through,” Plessis said.
India: Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami
South Africa: Aiden Markram, Dean Elgar, Theunis de Bruyn, Temba Bavuma, Faf du Plessis (captain), Quinton de Kock (wk), Vernon Philander, Senuran Muthusamy, Keshav Maharaj, Dane Piedt, Kagiso Rabada