Focus on India’s combination for Vishakhapatnam Test

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Vishakhapatnam: As India is going to play the first test against South Africa at Vishakhapatnam, the enviable home record-making Indian players something of an unbeatable side.

After the three-T20I series between India and South Africa ended in a 1-1 statement with the Proteas pulling off a series-levelling win in Bengaluru, the action now shifts to the red ball cricket.

India’s combinations for the Test series is more or less settled, but they’ve still got a few key decisions to take.

Bumrah’s injury is unfortunate, but it might have made the decision easier for team management. With Bumrah around, they’d have had to choose one of Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami. Now, they can play both.

When the likes of Ishant and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were injured or resting, and Bumrah yet to debut, it was Umesh who was the workhorse in these conditions. Bumrah’s injury gives him an opportunity again, and he’d be itching to be a more permanent member.

The Indian selectors had made a few changes while announcing the squad, dropping KL Rahul and giving Shubman Gill his maiden call-up in Tests. Let us take a look at five Indian players who could have a major impact on the upcoming Tests, both in terms of the Team India enter the Test series as favourites given their stranglehold on touring teams in recent years, their enviable home record making them something of an unbeatable side.

Rohit has been in fine form in white-ball cricket this year, finishing as the top run-getter in the recent World Cup after slamming five hundreds. The Mumbai batsman will hope to reign in on his instincts and cut down on the risky shots which have led to him getting dismissed after promising starts in red-ball cricket in the past.

Ashwin has not had the best of runs of late. Despite being one of the most prolific wicket-takers for the Indian team in recent years, Ashwin has found himself being benched more often than not, even in the Test format in which his selection was all but guaranteed not too long ago.

The Tamil Nadu Off-spinner sat out of both Tests in the West Indies tour, with Virat Kohli and the rest of the Indian team management opting to go with Ravindra Jadeja as the only specialist spinner in the XI to accommodate three frontline pacers.

Hanuma Vihari was the top run-getter in the two Tests, collecting 289 runs at a stunning average of 96.33 second only to Steve Smith in the ongoing ICC Test Championship run charts.

Rohit Sharma will be in focus as he will look to cement his place at the top of the order when Board President’s XI take on South Africa in a three-day warm-up match in Vizianagaram, Andhra Pradesh, starting Thursday. If Rohit Sharma performs in these matches at home, he might get the nod when India travel overseas next year.

It sums up the challenge South Africa have ahead of them. They lost 0-3 in the four-Test series the last time they toured India, and are once again up against a formidable unit.

Likely XI:

Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami.

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