New Delhi, Sep 30: Team India will take on South Africa in the first Test in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday (October 2) to kick-off their home season in the ICC Test Championship.
Under the leadership of captain Virat Kohli, the hosts - who are also the number one-ranked side in the longer format - would be looking to dominate the tourists and win the three-match series.
Team India is coming home after a dominant tour of West Indies where they won all three series i.e. T20I, ODI and Test series in the latter's backyard. They would be eager to continue the momentum against a young Protea side at home.
Probable India Playing XI
Team India dominated the Windies in all three formats, but the highlight of their tour was the Test series where Virat Kohli and his band hardly faced any resistance from the hosts. However, South Africa are a better side and despite having fresh faces in their squad the Proteas still can't be taken lightly. The young South Africa side under the leadership of experienced Faf du Plessis would be aiming to script a few surprises with their performance in the longer format.
Each match of the India-South Africa series, to be played in Visakhapatnam, Pune and Ranchi is worth 40 points since points in the WTC are evenly distributed over the number of matches in a series (two to five), ranging from 60 points for each match of a two-Test series to 24 for each match of a five-Test series.
Team News: India
India can go up to 240 points by grabbing all the points at stake in the series. On the other hand, South Africa can join India at the top of the table with 120 points. The top two teams at the end of the league will play the final in the United Kingdom in June 2021 with the winners crowned the World Test champions.
Rohit Sharma will begin his stint as an opener in Test cricket with this series and the Mumbaikar - who established himself as one of the best openers in the white-ball cricket - has an opportunity to replicate the same in the red-ball format. However, opening innings in Tests won't be that easy for Rohit as the red ball does a lot early on and supports the strike pacers and the ball coming into him has been the right-handed batsman's weakness.
Rohit's opening partner Mayank Agarwal would also be aiming for a better show in the upcoming series after the disappointments in both the Tests in the Caribbean. Cheteshwar Pujara - team's second-most dependable batsman after Kohli - too would be hungry for runs after flop show against Windies. The Rajkot batsman would be in the familiar territory of playing at subcontinent and would be looking to do what he's known for i.e. digging deeper and score runs.
Kohli too would be aiming to start the home season on a positive note with the bat and his deputy Ajinkya Rahane would be looking to continue his good form - that he found in the Caribbean. Hanuma Vihari would also be aiming to make the match a memorable one for he'll be playing in his home state.
Rishabh Pant has been replaced by veteran wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha in the first Test in Vizag. The 21-year-old has been at the receiving end after dismal shows in West Indies and later against the Proteas in the limited-overs. Saha will be making his comeback after a gap of one year and eight months.
The bowling department still looks balanced despite the absence of Jasprit Bumrah - who was the star with the red ball for India against the Windies. Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja looks to be sharing the duties in the spin department while Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma would be leading the pace battery. Kuldeep Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Wriddhiman Saha and Shubman Gill are also present in the side and it will be interesting to see when they'll get a chance in the playing eleven.
Team News: South Africa
South Africa will kick-off their ICC Test Championship campaign with this Test series.
When South Africa last toured Indian shores for a Test series, back in 2015, they had some of the most decorated Test players in their ranks in Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Morne Morkel, Dean Elgar, Imran Tahir, etc. in their ranks. Though Du Plessis and Elgar are still part of the current side the rest of the players have retired from the game or no longer play in the longer format.
The Proteas have some young faces in the squad who've shown a lot of promise in their career. In Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander and Keshav Maharaj they possess a formidable bowling attack. Young guns have no or little experience of playing under Indian conditions but they would be looking to grab on the opportunity and leave a mark.
Aiden Markram, Temba Bavuma, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi have significant experience of the conditions in the sub-continent through India A tours; while wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock (IPL and international games) would be aiming to translate his limited-overs exploits the longer format too.
Zubayr Hamza made an impressive start to his Test career against Pakistan last season when Faf du Plessis was ruled out and the retirement of Hashim Amla creates a further opportunity for him.
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (captain), Temba Bavuma (vice-captain), Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock (wk), Dean Elgar, Zubayr Hamza, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Senuran Muthusamy, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Vernon Philander, Dane Piedt, Kagiso Rabada, Rudi Second.
India: Virat Kohli (captain), Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Shubman Gill.
South Africa Probable XI: Aiden Markram, Dean Elgar, Theunis de Bruyn, Faf du Plessis (captain), Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock (wk), Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi.
India Probable Playing XI: Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha (wicketkeeper), R Ashwin, R Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami.
Here are the Dream 11 Fantasy Tips and Team for 1st Test between India and South Africa:
Batsmen: Aiden Markram, Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Faf du Plessis, Ajinkya Rahane
Wicketkeeper: Quinton de Kock
All-rounder: R Ashwin
Bowlers: Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander, Mohammad Shami, Keshav Maharaj.
MyKhel Dream11 Fantasy Team: Aiden Markram, Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Faf du Plessis, Ajinkya Rahane, Quinton de Kock (wk), R Ashwin, Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander, Mohammad Shami, Keshav Maharaj.
Captain: Virat Kohli
Vice Captain: Cheteshwar Pujara