Hitman begins life as Test opener

The Pioneer

The Pioneer

Author 2019-10-02 15:38:06

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Limited overs phenomenon Rohit Sharma starts life as a Test opener but the embattled Rishabh Pant will not be there when India begins the experiment with the first match against South Africa here today.

At Pant’s expense, Wriddhiman Saha will play his first international match in 22 months after India captain Virat Kohli confirmed that the Delhi keeper-batsman was being dropped from the first Test of India’s home season. While India will be desperately hoping that Rohit replicates his limited overs success in the traditional format, the build-up to the experiment has not been ideal to say the least with the batsman failing to score in the only warm-up game before the series.

But it won’t surprise many if the stylish opener scores a ‘daddy hundred’ here, like he is used to in the blue jersey.

Rohit is in the form of his life but could not be accommodated in the middle-order in the two Tests in the West Indies but now with K L Rahul dropped due to lack of runs, Rohit opening the innings could be a blessing in disguise for India.

In the net sessions ahead of the first Test, all eyes were on Rohit who seemed very much determined to make the most of the opportunity and improve his Test record.

In 27 Tests, he has made 1585 runs at 39.62 while he is the owner of more than 10,000 runs in limited overs cricket.

The captain also confirmed the availability of seasoned spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. Ashwin, who is yet to play international cricket since he injured himself during the Adelaide Test win last December, was not part of the Tests in the West Indies.

The rest of line-up looks settled with India fielding two pacers and as many spinners. If the wicket is turning, Hanuma Vihari will be expected to contribute as the third-spinner.

India are the overwhelming favourites against South Africa who have come here with a new-look squad. Only five players, including skipper Faf du Plessis, were part of the squad that received a 3-0 hammering from India four years ago.

Not many are giving the Proteas a chance in the series, especially if the ball starts to turn. Aiden Markram and Temba Bavuma were amongst the runs in the warm-up and that should give them confidence ahead of the game.

The pace trio of Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander and Lungi Ngidi can trouble the Indians, especially with prediction of overcast skies and spells of rain on all five days of the game.

India, who are aiming to win a record-breaking 11th consecutive series at home, need to be wary of South Africa’s potent pace attack comprising Rabada, Philander and Ngidi.

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