Team India has embarked on the South African tour of three Tests, six ODIs and three T20Is. Team India is the no.1 ranked Test team and is coming off an excellent unbeaten run at home during the 2016-17 season.
Now, Team India will play most of their series outside India in the 2018-19 season starting with South Africa. This is the biggest test for the Indian team as their legacy and record of a 10th consecutive Test series win is on the line.
The South Africa team is ready for the Indian team challenge and has the added advantage of top players like AB de Villiers, Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn back in the squad. Their batting and bowling is at peak after demolishing Zimbabwe in the four day Test.
Team India on the other hand is confident of doing much better than their previous tours to the rainbow nation. The main reason for Virat Kohli’s confidence of doing well on the tour is the presence of an experienced and talented fast bowling unit, that is in form.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohd Shami, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah, along with Hardik Pandya make up the quick bowling contingent for Team India. The first Test will be played at the Newlands Stadium in Cape Town and the pitch is known to give assistance to the fast bowlers.
Team India needs to get the balance right, as R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will play the important role of keeping the batsmen in check, while the quick bowlers are bowling in rotation along with the spinners.
The openers for the first Test will be Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay. Vijay is on his third tour to South Africa. and Dhawan was declared fit for the first Test by BCCI. Then comes the experienced and in form middle order of Cheteshwar Pujara at no.3, captain Virat Kohli at no.4, Ajinkya Rahane at no.5 and Rohit Sharma at no.6.
Though Rahane is struggling with the form, he is one of the brightest hopes for Team India to tackle the South African pacers. Wriddhiman Saha will take up the keeping gloves, with R Ashwin being the lone spinner in the playing XI. He will get support from Rohit Sharma, in giving breaks to the fast bowlers.
COC has picked the trio of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah as the three fast bowlers India will play in Cape Town.
The three Test series between India and South Africa will definitely be an exciting one and the first Test at Cape Town will set the tone for the remaining series.
COC Predicted Team India XI for the first Test:
Shikhar Dhawan, M Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha (WK), R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah.