India will face the mighty South Africans in the first test of the Gandhi Mandela Series 2015 at the PCA Stadium, Mohali in Mohali this Thursday. It’s the first time Kohli will be leading Indian side as full time captain in a test series. Co-incidentally, his 27th birthday falls on the very same day India take on South Africa on the 1st day of 1st test. Hence, there will be immense expectation from him as India’s key batsman and skipper.
Proteas are in astonishing form these days playing brilliantly across all formats of cricket at the highest level. They successfully beat India at the recently held both the T20 and five ODI series. This time, Virat Kohli will be facing the biggest challenge to lead the disheartened Indian cricket team against the jubilant Africans, who are on winning spree – repeating outstanding performance on consistent basis day in and day out. At present, South Africa are the number one test side in ICC international rankings, but India could move up to the second spot if Kohli & Co. miraculously beat Proteas 4-0 which sounds impossible as of now.
Absence of opener Quinton De Cock and Hashim Amla’s inconsistent form in recent times will be certainly a big relief for skipper Kohli. But Amla’s statistics is completely different in test matches in India. He scored at an average of 102 in 10 innings that he played in India with 4 tons. Protease dressing room might be expecting lots of good knocks from their test captain in this series.
Kohli’s main focus would be to get out Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers early. They are playing at their best these days and dismissing them out at cheap scores is the only solution that India need to work upon or else it’s useless to even dream of winning a test at this series. Hopefully, Amit Mishra and R. Ashwin will get the turn in Mohali and trouble African batsmen more.
The same goes with South Africa too. If Imran Tahir, Protease’s most reliable spinner, gets the rhythm, then it would be very hard for India to get going and put big scores on the scoreboard. All-rounder JP Duminy is also expected to play an important role down the order. He is someone who can trouble India with both bat and ball. South African fast bowler Rabada might the chance to join Steyn and Morkel following his superb performance at recent ODI series. However, final playing XI of both teams will only be revealed in the morning at the time of toss.
Kohli, Raina and Rohit Sharma will form the troika of Indian middle order followed by Wriddhiman Saha and Ravinder Jadeja. When it comes to bowling India will be without Ishant Sharma as he is serving 1-match ban. It is expected that Varun Aaron will be opted for the Mohali test alongside Bhuveneshwar Kumar. They will have to provide the initial breakthrough to keep South Africa under pressure.
Squads: Expected Playing XI of both Teams
India: Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Virat Kohli (C), Wriddhiman Saha (W & K), Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Varun Aaron, Amit Mishra, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
South Africa: AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla (C), JP Duminy, Temba Bavuma, Dane Vilas (W & K), Dean Elgar, Imran Tahir, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada and Morne Morkel.