India vs South Africa: Kohli announces team for first Test, Saha set to replace struggling Pant
Ahead of the first Test against South Africa in Visakhapatnam, skipper Virat Kohli announced that Wriddhiman Saha will be the first-choice wicketkeeper in the series. Saha will replace Rishabh Pant who has had a string of low scores and has been chided for playing rash shots early in his innings. Calling him the ‘best wicketkeeper in the world’, Kohli said that Saha was fit and raring to go.
The Bengal player returned to the side during the two-Test series against West Indies held in August after a long injury layoff. In both the matches though, Risabh Pant was picked ahead of Saha. “It was unfortunate that he was out with an injury. According to me he is the best keeper the world. With these conditions he starts for us,” Kohli said at a press conference held on the eve of the first Test.
Kohli spoke at length about the combination that the team management was looking at. He made it clear that Rohit Sharma would open the innings. “Rohit has been in Test set up for long time and it’s an opportunity (as an opener) for both him and the team. We’re not looking for certain kind of batting from him, but to display his own flair,” Kohli said.
Talking about the spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, Kohli said that both of them would feature in the playing XI at Visakhapatnam. “Wherever the conditions provide us to go with two spinners, Ash is always going to be a threat and in home conditions with his batting and the way he bowls as well he is always going to be starting with Jadeja. That was a no brainer for us,” the Team India captain said. Both Ashwin and Jadeja starting would mean that Kuldeep Yadav would be left out.
India playing XI: 1. Mayank Agarwal, 2. Rohit Sharma, 3. Cheteshwar Pujara, 4. Virat Kohli, 5. Ajinkya Rahane, 6. Hanuma Vihari, 7. Wriddhiman Saha, 8. Ravindra Jadeja, 9. Ravichandran Ashwin, 10. Ishant Sharma, 11. Mohammed Shami.