After thoroughly proving their mettle at home, Team India will embark on a mission to justify their number one tag in the upcoming year where they will tour South Africa, England and Australia. The tough journey will start with the tour of South Africa in January, a country where India is yet to win a Test series. However, expectations are high from Virat Kohli & Co. who have won eight Test series in a row and are looking primed to win the ongoing series against Sri Lanka.
During the last couple of years, India has registered series wins over Sri Lanka, West Indies, New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia and will be desperate to continue their winning momentum when they take on the Proteas. Many feel that the current side has been tested yet and Kohli will be desperate to lead his team to a historic win to prove the critics wrong.
Meanwhile, the squad for the Test series, starting January 5, will be announced after the upcoming third Test against Sri Lanka. Reports are suggesting that the selectors are mulling on including quite a few new faces in the team with the likes of uncapped Jasprit Bumrah and Yuzvendra Chahal in contention.
So here we are taking a look at the 16-man squad which can fly to South Africa:
1. KL Rahul:
Unlike the limited-overs format, Rahul has cemented his place in the Test team with some solid performances in the last few series. His performance in the tough series against Australia where he had scored six consecutive half centuries proved that he has it in him to excel in the toughest of times and is a guaranteed name in the squad.
2. Shikhar Dhawan:
After being dropped from the Test side, the southpaw has once again cemented his place in the team. He was recalled during the series in Sri Lanka and made an instant impact by bagging the Man of the Series award. Even in the ongoing series, he struck a fluent 94 in the first Test before leaving the team for personal reasons.
3. Murali Vijay:
The incumbent Murali Vijay made a memorable comeback to the playing eleven as he played a fine knock of 128 against Sri Lanka in the second Test. He too is guaranteed name in the squad.
4. Cheteshwar Pujara:
One of India’s finest batsmen in the last couple of seasons, Pujara will be eyeing a string show in South Africa to make amends for his poor performance when India toured Australia and England a couple of years ago. He was India’s highest run-scorer in the previous home season and has started the ongoing season in the same fashion, scoring a fifty and a hundred in the first two games.
5. Virat Kohli (c):
The onus will be on the talismanic India skipper to lead India to a historic win in the African country. The 29-year old is in fine form, having scored a century and a double century in the first two Tests against Sri Lanka and will be desperate to replicate the performance in South Africa too.
6. Ajinkya Rahane:
Unlike his teammates, Rahane has looked off colour in the ongoing series. The Mumbai-born had also struggled to perform well in the Ranji Trophy before the ongoing series as he was dismissed for a duck twice in four innings. However, he enjoys a terrific track record in overseas conditions and will be looking to perform well in the tough conditions of South Africa.
7. Rohit Sharma:
After a lengthy spell away from the Test team, Rohit Sharma scored a fine century in his comeback match against Sri Lanka in the second Test. With form on his side, he too is looking set to make it to the squad.
8. Wriddhiman Saha (wk):
Having done extremely well since replacing MS Dhoni behind the stumps, Saha will also be eyeing a strong series on the tough tour of South Africa.
Allrounder and spinners
With the pitches likely to support the pacers, Hardik Pandya will have a big role to play in South Africa with his medium pace. On the other hand, the duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will also be looking to make an impact and improve their track record in overseas conditions.
9. Hardik Pandya:
10. Ravichandran Ashwin:
11. Ravindra Jadeja:
Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are looking set to get the ticket for South Africa. In addition to those, there are reports that ODI and T20I specialist Jasprit Bumrah could also get his maiden call.
12. Mohammed Shami:
Shami is likely to lead the attack in South Africa.
13. Umesh Yadav:
His pace will be an asset for the team on the bouncy pitches of South Africa and the pacer would be eyeing to make the most of the friendly conditions.
14. Bhuvneshwar Kumar:
Bhuvneshwar Kumar once again proved his worth with a sensational performance in the first Test at the Eden Gardens and he too looks set to make it to the squad.
15. Ishant Sharma:
India’s senior most pacer impressed one and all with his impressive performance in the second game against Sri Lanka. With the bowling attack relatively inexperienced, the team management will be keen to have Ishant in the team for the tough series.
16. Jasprit Bumrah:
Bumrah has become India’s bowling mainstay in ODIs and T20Is and can be soon seen playing Tests as reports are suggesting the selectors can include him in the team as a backup.
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