After the ongoing series with New Zealand, India is to tour South Africa from Dec 17th. The tour comprises of 3 test series, 3 Odis, and 4 T20I. Team India in recent years has achieved some significant success abroad. The back-to-back win against Australia in Australia has changed the face of the Indian Test team who was always considered a weak opponent in the foreign lands. If there is one thing that Team India will be eyeing, it will be a test series win in South Africa.
Given the bench strength, the Indian team has now been able to field different sides for Tests, ODIs, and T20s. There are only a few players who are permanently playing all three formats. There are big names on the test side who may not be opted this time in the test series against South Africa.
Kohli was rested for the first test against the New Zealand series. Rahane although captained well, but was unable to silence his critics with the bat. There was also a question asked from whom about the player who will make the way for Virat Kohli in the second test, to which he replied “No comments”. While the coach, Rahul Dravid has said that he is not worried about Rahanes’ form, there is pressure mounting on the middle-order batsman to perform and given his current performances, it would not be a surprise if he remains out of the Test series against South Africa.
Pujara seems to have adopted a strategy of defending the balls in the abroad conditions and then looking to score once the ball has become soft and not swinging. While the strategy has worked for the batsman many times in the past, it has also attracted a lot of criticism as too much defending put a lot of pressure on the batsman. Many believe that Kohli’s remark of batsman not showing intent in the WTC final presentation was hinted at Pujara who scored 8 off 54 balls in the first innings and 15 off 80 balls in the second innings. Pujara plays only test cricket as of now, however not seeing him in the eleven-man team in SA would not be a surprise.
Ravi Chandran Ashwin
Going by the form, it is unlikely that any Cricket Pundit will leave R.Ashwin out from the test side. However, there have been repeated occurrences when the ace off-spinner was made to sit out despite favourable conditions. The bowler made a comeback to the ODI team by evolving his skills. However, rumors in the cricketing fraternity suggest a rift between the cunning spinner and Kohli. According to some sources, it was R.Ashwin’s revolt against the skipper Kohli which made him resign from the T20 captaincy. There are also reports that Rohit Sharma will eventually be made the white ball skipper in the ODIs also. If the rumors about Ashwin and Kohli turn out to be true, it would not be a surprise that Ashwin would be excluded from the playing 11 in SA Test series.