Former India batsman VVS Laxman has disclosed his ideal Indian playing XI for the all-important South Africa Test series, slated to be commenced from January 5 at Newlands, Cape Town. The batting great preferred Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay over KL Rahul while he backed right-arm seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar to make an automatic entry into the side.
"I feel that in Cape Town, you'll have Shikhar and Vijay opening. Shami should be playing. He missed out [in Nagpur] because of a niggle. Umesh [Yadav] was just a little out of sorts [in the first two Tests]," Laxman said while speaking to Aaj Tak ahead of the ongoing third Test in Delhi.
VVS opted for Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma to spearhead the pace attack. The 43-year-old believes that India should go with only one spinner in South Africa, making room for an extra batsman.
"I am happy that Ishant is being continued with. Nagpur was the best I have seen him bowl in a long time. He has improved, his wrist position has improved. That was something he had been working on for a long time,” Laxman opined.
"They [Shami and Ishant] are two quality bowlers, along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar when he comes back. This will be the playing XI, barring one of the spinners. Bhuvneshwar will come back," he added.
A lot has also been said about India's problem of plenty as the team boasts a solid bench strength in all facets of the game.
Captain Kohli was forced to make a couple of tough calls on the third and final Test at Kotla on Saturday. Opener KL Rahul left out of the playing XI with the return of Shikhar Dhawan, who missed the second Test at Nagpur due to personal reasons. On the other hand, speedster Umesh Yadav was dropped to accommodate a fit-again Shami.
Middle-order batsman Rohit Sharma, who compiled a beautiful ton in Nagpur, will also be there in the reckoning as the sixth specialist batsman whereas seam bowling all-rounder Hardik Pandya might have to wait for his opportunities on the way.
VVS Laxman's playing XI for South Africa Test series:
Virat Kohli (c), Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin/Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar