India skipper Virat Kohli confirmed wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha will play ahead of Rishabh Pant in the South Africa Test series. Addressing the press, Kohli also said that Ravichandran Ashwin will make a comeback to Tests and India will field two spinners and two fast bowlers at Vishakapatnam. While Rohit Sharma looks to revive his Test career, Kohli said that he is ready to give him ‘space and time’.
Eyes will be on Rohit, who will open the batting in Tests for India, a role he will be new to. In the warm-up game against South Africa, Rohit failed to open his account as he registered a duck. With out-of-form KL Rahul not included in the squad, Mayank Agarwal will open the innings with Rohit. There is no doubt about the No 3 and 4 spot as Cheteshwar Pujara and Kohli will take those spots respectively.
Ajinkya Rahane, who made a brilliant comeback to Tests in West Indies will play at the No 5 spot and will be followed by Hanuma Vihari. With solid performances under his belt in his brief career, Vihari has won the trust of the management and seems to have cemented his place at the No 6 spot, add to that his useful off-spin. Kohli has already indicated he will field two spinners which means Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin would be the two spinners and the two pacers would be Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma. It would be interesting to see where Saha gets slotted with both the spinners there in the line-up and are capable batters.
Saha will most likely bat at No.8 below Ashwin, but ahead of Jadeja, though the order may change as per the match situation. Any possibility of Pant playing as a specialist batsman can be ruled out.
India Predicted XI
Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Ravindra Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha (W), Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma