A greenish wicket at Newlands welcomes Kohli and co. for first test match

[caption id="attachment_61084" align="alignnone" width="580"]DSC08081 The 22 yards at Newlands will have enough bounce and carry to offer for the fast bowlers. Image Source: Xtra Time[/caption]

Debasis Sen, Cape Town: A greenish wicket and a pace quartet of South African fast bowlers will welcome Virat Kohli and his team as they face the Proteas in the first test match of the series starting from Friday.  It will be an extremely difficult challenge for the visitors as a hungry looking Proteas attack will look to settle scores with the Indians. South Africa captain Faf du Plessis for the first time in recent times will have the luxury of all the top guns available.

The mindsets of the two teams looked totally different ahead of the start of the test match. While the Indians preferred to stay at hotel, Proteas sweated it out at the Newlands in the morning. After long sessions on the centre wicket on Tuesday and Wednesday, the boys took to the practice wickets adjacent to the ground on Thursday.
The pace quartet of Philander, Rabada, Morkel and Steyn was seen going full guns blazing in the middle under the watchful eyes of Coach Otis Gibson while Proteas captain Faf du Plessis looked on.

Interestingly, all-rounder Chris Morris was seen having a long session with bat in hand. If that is any indication to go by, the all-rounder could well be a part of the playing XI, providing back-up to the likes of Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel. In that case the axe might fall on Steyn who has had a long injury lay off.
Dale Steyn is no longer the first-choice pacer that he used to be and it could well be a case of him having to make way for the younger brigade. Even though the rest of the bowlers had an off-day of sorts, Keshav Maharaj had a long session next to the match-wicket as Rabada later joined him, bowling off a shortened run-up.

Indians on the other hand decided to do gym and pool sessions at the team hotel. Coach Ravi Shastri did come to the ground along with Sanjay Bangar and Bharat Arun. Selection committee chairman MSK Prasad was seen having a long discussion with Shastri presumably about the composition of the squad. A fit again Shikhar Dhawan is almost a certainty to open the batting with Murali Vijay. The next three batsmen to go in will be Pujara, Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane/Rohit Sharma. Rahane’s record overseas will give him an edge over Rohit Sharma who also has been batting for long at nets. There is another possibility of getting both the Mumbai batsmen in the playing XI. Ravichandran Ashwin will be the lone spinner in the side with Saha coming in at No.8. The three fast bowlers to feature will be Md Shami, Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Hardik Pandya might be an option too but in that case you have to go in with five batsmen which look very unlikely. Jasprit Bumrah have an outside chance of sneaking into the playing XI. In that case he will get the nod ahead of Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

So, the three options for the team management can be :

Option 1: To play six batsman by getting in both Rahane and Rohit

Option 2: Going with five bowlers and in doing so play either Rahane or Rohit. Rohit looks to have an edge considering his recent form with the bat. Five bowlers will be Shami, Ishant, Bhuvneshwar, Hardik and Ashwin

Option 3: Picking Jasprit Bumrah in the team as he can be a surprise element on this wicket at Newlands because of the length which he bowls. In that case he will partner Shami and Ishant.

Asked about the team composition given an expected green-top wicket for the first Test, he said, "Whenever the wicket suits, if it's a bowling-friendly track then obviously we might go with four bowlers and if conditions are perceived to be batting-friendly we might opt for five bowlers.
"Well, more or less that has been the pattern for the last 24 months or so wherein the team management has made the choices about the team composition.
However, Bangar was not sure whether Rohit Sharma or Ajinkya Rahane, or both, would get the nod for the first Test starting tomorrow, given their different runs of form in the build-up to the series.
"Again, it all depends on the team composition. All of them are batting really well. Rohit, on the back of his performances across formats, is in with a chance of playing," he said.

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