India opener Shikhar Dhawan’s sudden ankle injury has led to plenty of speculations concerning the visitors opening pair in the first Test at Cape Town, starting on January 5. However, if the reports in TOI are to be believed, it is now confirmed that Dhawan is not deemed fit for the series opener and therefore Karnataka batsman KL Rahul will accompany the experienced campaigner Murali Vijay in the crucial opening slot.
Sources close to the development told TOI that Virat Kohli is fairly disappointed with Dhawan "not being careful" ahead of the all-important tour. Ever since his Test comeback in July 2017 against Sri Lanka, Dhawan has been in tremendous form in the red ball cricket – scoring 550 runs in 8 Test innings at an astonishing average of 68.75.
The southpaw was spotted limping while entering the team hotel in Mumbai on Wednesday (December 27) and the hectic travel to the rainbow nation didn’t help Dhawan’s cause either. While Shikhar still has plenty of time to recover for the second Test, scheduled to be played in Centurion from January 13, Vijay and Rahul will now have to deal with the ferocious Proteas pace attack – comprising of Steyn, Morkel, Rabada and Philander.
Over the years it has been seen that the success of a subcontinental team depends on how well their opening combination fares in the alien conditions of South Africa, England, Australia and New Zealand. Just a week ago, India’s head coach Shastri had clarified that Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay will open the batting in South Africa as they bring in a lot of experience and stability.
“You look at experience, you look at variety so that’s what Shikhar brings in, a left hand, a right-hand combination so he is a must. He has got lots of runs. Vijay the most experienced and a very good record overseas and he brings solidity,” Shastri had said while speaking to CNN-News 18.
India will play three Tests against the Proteas. The series will be followed by six ODIs and three T20Is.
Virat Kohli(c), Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Parthiv Patel, Jasprit Bumrah
South Africa Squad (1st Test):
Faf du Plessis(c), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Theunis de Bruyn, AB de Villiers, Dean Elgar, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn