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Sunil Gavaskar picks India’s best playing XI for first Test against South Africa

Dec 24, 2023

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Sunil Gavaskar (Twitter)

Ahead of the much-anticipated India vs South Africa 1st Test in Centurion, former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar has weighed in with his ideal Indian playing XI. With the pitch expected to favour fast bowlers, Gavaskar’s selection resonates a blend of three pacers and two spinners for the challenging encounter. The cricket legend, when prompted for his preferred lineup, suggested a balanced composition to tackle South Africa in their own backyard.

Gavaskar’s selection strategy appears to revolve around adapting to the conditions, a crucial factor in the contest. With Rohit Sharma at the helm, Team India braces for their quest to clinch a historic series victory in South Africa. His choice reflects a strategic amalgamation of pace and spin, aligning with the anticipated demands of the Centurion Test that will promise an intriguing battle between bat and ball.

“My Playing XI is going to be very simple. The openers will be a [Yashasvi] Jaiswal and captain Rohit Sharma. Shubman Gill number three, number four [Virat] Kohli. Number five KL Rahul, number six Shreyas Iyer or five and six that can move here and there. After that, it will be Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin. And then the three fast bowlers, Mukesh Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Siraj,” Gavaskar said while speaking to Star Sports.

Selection conundrum for the selectors

India’s Test squad gearing up for the upcoming matches against South Africa faced unforeseen disruptions as key players encountered setbacks. Virat Kohli, a linchpin of the team, had to rush back home due to a family emergency, raising concerns about his availability for the series opener on December 26. Although the BCCI remained tight-lipped about the specifics of Kohli’s situation, sources indicated his probable return before the crucial Test.

Adding to the challenges, the pace bowling department suffered a blow with Mohammed Shami’s exclusion due to an ankle injury. The selectors, navigating through hurdles, had to release opener Ruturaj Gaikwad owing to a finger injury. These setbacks followed Deepak Chahar’s earlier withdrawal from the ODI series due to family reasons, necessitating multiple alterations to the squad.

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