India and South Africa will lock horns with each other in a highly-anticipated Boxing Day Test match at Centurion’s SuperSport Park from Tuesday. Both teams have named strong squads with much at stake during this two-match Test series and are expected to produce a memorable game to finish the year 2023 on high.
This will last Test series for former captain Dean Elger who announced his decision to retire after the Cape Town fixture. Youngster Tristan Stubbs is in contention to make his Test debut while senior pacers Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi are cleared from their recent injuries.
For India, Rohit Sharma-led management faces some injury and tactical issues ahead of the first match and it will be interesting to see their playing eleven for the Centurion Test without the likes of Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara.
Star pacer Mohammed Shami and top-order batter Ruturaj Gaikwad are ruled out due to injuries while wicketkeeper batter Ishan Kishan has been withdrawn due to personal reasons. Abhimanyu Easwaran and KS Bharat have joined the camp as replacements.
India last played a Test match during the West Indies tour in July 2023 where Yashasvi Jaiswal and Mukesh Kumar made a successful Test debut. Yashasvi is expected to open against returning captain Rohit and Shubman Gill will play in the no.3 role again.
Virat Kohli will continue in his favourite no.4 position while fit-again Shreyas Iyer will fill in the no.5 position left vacant by Ajinkya Rahane. Head coach Rahul Dravid has confirmed that KL Rahul will don the wicketkeeping glove ahead of KS Bharat and might start in the no.6 position.
Centurion’s pitch hugely favours pacers in red-ball cricket and Dravid also highlighted extra bounce and seam for the bowlers. That might tempt the management to enter the game with four pacers and one spinner as they did in the World Test Championship 2023 final against Australia at The Oval in July.
Once again, the veteran spin all-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin is expected to sit out to pave the way for pace all-rounder Shardul Thakur while Ravindra Jadeja will play as a specialist spin option. Jasprit Bumrah is back and is tipped to form a pace attack with Mohammed Siraj and Mukesh Kumar leaving Prasidh Krishna on the bench.
India Test Squad: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah (vc), Prasidh Krishna, KS Bharat (wk), Abhimanyu Easwaran
India Predicted Playing XI for 1st Test: Rohit Sharma (c), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah.
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