India and South Africa are set to lock horns in the first of the three-match Test series in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday. The hosts are unbeaten in the last 10 home Test series and they will be keen to keep the record intact. Ahead of the series opener, Virat Kohli has confirmed the playing XI s Wriddhiman Saha returns to the team with Rishabh Pant being sidelined after a lean West Indies series.
Rohit Sharma, despite his failure in the practice game, will open the innings along with Mayank Agarwal even as Shubman Gill will have to wait for his chance. Kohli has also cleared that India’s limited-overs vice-captain will be given enough time to find his rhythm at the top of the order in the whites.
India’s spin twins Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja are set to play together after a long time in Tests. This also marks a sort of comeback for Ashwin for India after last donning the jersey in Adelaide during the Australia tour in December last year. Ashwin and Jadeja had picked 54 out of 70 wickets to fall in the previous home series against South Africa and the visitors will be well aware of the threat they possess.
Shami and Ishant to handle the pace attack
As expected, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma are the two pacers in the line-up which makes it a four-man bowling attack. Hanuma Vihari, who sealed his position at number six with his show in the West Indies, can roll his arm as well if needed. Interestingly, India bat very deep till number nine which is a great thing and to strengthen things in their favour, Ishant Sharma can also hang around and he will come at 10.
South Africa will definitely have their task cut out as the surface in Visakhapatnam is known to assist the spinners more. In the only Test played at the venue, 25 out of 40 wickets were picked by the spinners and Ashwin and Jadeja both were the part of that encounter. As far as the team combination is concerned, the Proteas led by Faf du Plessis haven’t yet confirmed their XI.
India’s playing XI for the first Test: Virat Kohli (Capt), Ajinkya Rahane (VC), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami.
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