India vs South Africa, Test squad selection live updates: Rohit, Rahul face-off for opening slot

Live updates: After dominating West Indies, Virat Kohli and team will all be set to kickstart their home season with the Test series against South Africa. Despite their convincing win against West Indies, there are few areas of concerns which the selectors need to identify and factor in when they convene for the meeting in Delhi. The top focus will be the opening conundrum – KL Rahul has not been able to nail down his spot as the opener and this has suddenly propelled Rohit Sharma’s name to be considered as the opener even in Test cricket. Also, Hardik Pandya has regained fitness and also, there is the issue of which spinners to include in the Test squad.

Follow Team India selection live updates below:

Wicket-keepers in squad

Test matches in India normally feature one specialist keeper in the side but Wriddhiman Saha is very much in the scheme of things even though Rishabh Pant remains the top choice. Pant has gone from strength to strength since his Test debut and team management will be hopeful he puts on consistent performances with the bat. As for Saha, he will have to be content with being the second best keeper-batsman in the country in the longest format.

Hardik Pandya: To be or not to be?

All-rounder Hardik Pandya could be back in the Test squad or else Navdeep Saini might come in as a back-up pacer.It remains to be seen whether the Think-Tank will want Pandya to only concentrate on white ball cricket in the next 13 months keeping the World Cup in focus. It must be noted that Pandya was rested for the Windies tour but was recalled for the T20I series against South Africa.

Rahul’s poor form at top

Rahul, considered a favourite of this team management, has scored 664 runs in his last 30 Test innings, with his only notable score, 149 against England at the Oval last year, coming in a dead fifth rubber. With Mayank Agarwal assured of his place, the only bone of contention could be the opening slot where a 15-member squad could ensure both Rohit and Easwaran make it.

Young guns in fray

Bengal opener Abhimanyu Easwaran, a prolific performer at the domestic and India A games, could be rewarded with a place in the side as a reserve opener, if the selection committee decides to drop Rahul. The other openers in contention are Priyank Panchal of Gujarat and Shubman Gill of Punjab.

Rohit Sharma as opener? 

Cheteshwar Pujara, at No.3, and skipper Virat Kohli, at No.4, automatically pick themselves. This has left head coach Ravi Shastri and skipper Kohli with only one option, to try an explosive player like Rohit at the top of the order, following the ‘Virender Sehwag impact model’.

Big talking points

Opener KL Rahul’s poor show with the bat could pave the way for Rohit Sharma’s return to the Indian Test set-up. White ball vice-captain Rohit, who couldn’t make the cut in the playing XI against the West Indies, is expected to be tried out as an opener after Hanuma Vihari and Ajinkya Rahane sealed slot Nos 5 and 6 in the batting order respectively. Rohit’s last Test appearance for India was in the away series against Australia in 2018.

Hello and welcome

A very warm welcome to the live blog of India’s team selection for the upcoming series against South Africa. India are scheduled to play three T20Is followed by as many Tests against Proteas. The hosts have already announced their squad for the T20I series and today, they will be naming the squad for the Test series.

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