Debasis Sen, Centurion: Virat Kohli will perhaps face the toughest challenge in his tenure as captain as India look to draw parity in the series against South Africa. The team management is mulling the idea of making in a few changes to the squad that played in the first test at Cape Town.
Country’s No. 1 wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha is likely to make way for Parthiv Patel. Saha, who became the first Indian wicket-keeper to take 10 dismissals in an overseas test match in the last test, may be dropped in order to give Parthiv a chance.
Opener KL Rahul also looks all set to open the batting for India with Murali Vijay. Shikhar Dhawan will have to sit for the second test match as his technique against the short bowling was exposed at Newlands.
If India goes in with six batsmen (looks likely) then both Rohit and Rahane will get picked at the expense of off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.
It is also learnt that the conditions in Centurion may not favor a swing bowler and speedster Ishant Sharma could replace Bhuvneshwar Kumar, despite his six-wicket match haul and a gritty 25 in the first Test.
However, the Ishant-Bhuvneshwar swap is yet to be confirmed even though the other two changes are more or less certain.
The Indian vice-captain was unceremoniously kept away from the playing XI at Newlands. But in order to go in with an extra batsman the team management will have to sacrifice a bowler and it is very likely Ravichandran Ashwin will get the axe. The four seamers would be Md Shami, Ishant Sharma(Bhuvneshwar Kumar), Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya.
The hosts on the other hand also looks to go in with a four prong pace attack. Vernon Philander will spearhead the pace attack in the absence of an injured Dale Steyn. Philander looked at times unplayable in Cape Town, while the new leading bowler in test cricket, Kagiso Rabada, brings plenty of pace, fire and skill. He took 13 wickets in a test against England at the venue two years ago.
Morne Morkel will be the third seamer, with a tossup between Chris Morris and Lungi Ngidi. Morris looks to have a better chance to play as he is no mug with the bat. But there have been murmurings that South Africa may even select a fifth seamer and leave spinner Keshav Maharaj on the sidelines, with throwing uncapped Lungi Ngidi in the middle.
The hosts may also go in with six batsmen like India and in that case Temba Bavuma is a certainty. He did field at the slips during practice today at Super Sport Park.
It will be interesting to see how the Indians approach to the test match starting from Saturday. The Proteas has an invincible record here at Super Sport Park, winning 17 out of their last 22 test matches. Kohli and his men will have to play out of their skins to keep the series alive.
The hosts have already taken a 1-0 lead in the three match series following their 72 run victory at Newlands.
India : Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Parthiv Patel, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma (Bhuvneshwar Kumar), Jasprit Bumrah and Md Shami.
South Africa: Markhram, Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Chris Morris, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi.