The first test of the two match Freedom series between India and South Africa starts on October 2 in Vishakhapatnam. India go in as the betting favourites as they have the home advantage and the knowledge that they are facing a South African team that is looking to find its feet now that a number of senior players are gone.
South Africa no longer have the services of H Amla and D Steyn who have been two of the best players for the Proteas for a long time. They have a number of new faces in the side who do not have a lot of experience playing test cricket in India. This should make the challenge a lot easier for India but it will all depend on the playing eleven.
Will R Sharma Succeed As An Opener?
India have experimented with their opening combination for the last couple of years but have not found two successful openers. R Sharma who opens in T20 and ODI cricket is expected to be given an opportunity to open in the first test along with M Agarwal. R Sharma opened in the warm-up match when the Indian Board President XI took on South Africa in a 3 day game and he failed getting out for 0.
That’s not going to give him a lot of confidence but given his experience and talent, it is quite likely that he will be given the opportunity to open at Vishakhapatnam.
Who Bats At Number 6?
R Shastri and V Kohli need to decide if they are going to play 6 batsmen or 5 batsmen and let the keeper take over the number 6 position. If they play 6 batsmen, H Vihari is likely to bat at 6. If they play 5 batsman, then either R Pant or W Saha will bat at 6, depending on which wicket-keeper batsman they decide to pick for the first test.
If Pant gets the number 6 slot, he is going to be under a lot of pressure as he has been in poor form for quite some time now.
Three Spinners Or Two?
R Ashwin and R Jadeja will once again be the two automatic choices in the spin bowling line-up. However, if Kohli decides to go with 5 batsmen, it gives India the opportunity to play an extra spinner in K Yadav.
These key selection choices in the playing eleven could determine how the first test plays out!