Rohit Sharma falls for 5 runs, Rabada strikes early

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Ravindra Jadeja misses out due to upper back spasms. R. Ashwin and Shardul Thakur are India’s all-rounders.

South Africa won the toss, and their captain, Temba Bavuma, chose to bowl first. India introduced fast bowler Prasidh Krishna, marking his Test debut. For a clear outcome in this Test match, both South Africa and India hope to play out the full five days with 450 overs. However, rain forecasts threaten to disrupt or even cancel multiple sessions during the ‘Friendship Series’ opener at SuperSport Park in Centurion starting Tuesday.

Both India and South Africa show signs of desperation for a win. India hasn’t secured a Test series victory in South Africa yet, making it a significant goal. Interestingly, even though Sri Lanka has never won a Test match in India, they managed to clinch a series win in South Africa back in 2019. This series holds substantial importance for South Africa as they won’t be playing many Test matches in this cycle. Winning here could significantly impact their chances of reaching the World Test Championship match at Lord’s in 2025.

Given the overcast conditions, India is likely to opt for four pacers, including Shardul Thakur, and might prefer Ravindra Jadeja as the sole spinner over R Ashwin. KL Rahul’s willingness to take up wicket-keeping duties in Tests means S Bharat might not get a chance. This flexibility could allow India to include an additional specialist batsman like Shreyas Iyer and field five bowlers due to Rahul’s dual role.

With opener Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill and Iyer not having experience of playing Test match in South Africa, things may turn a little tricky for India against Rabada, Ndigi, left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj, Gerald Coetzee and Marco Jansen.

Playing XIs

India: Rohit Sharma(c), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul(w), Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Prasidh Krishna

South Africa: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Tony de Zorzi, Temba Bavuma(c), Keegan Petersen, David Bedingham, Kyle Verreynne(w), Marco Jansen, Gerald Coetzee, Kagiso Rabada, Nandre Burger