Debasis Sen, Johannesburg: Indian middle order batsman Ajinkya Rahane is all set to play the third and final test match against South Africa which begins on Wednesday. The vice-captain of the Indian team has been overlooked by the team management for the previous two test matches at Cape Town and Centurion. Captain Virat Kohli was seen having a long discussion with his deputy on the sidelines of the net practice area at Wanderers.
Possessing the best average outside the sub-continent, the inclusion of Rahane will definitely bolster the middle order batting which has looked out of sorts against the fiery pace of South African fast bowlers. Rohit Sharma, who was preferred over Rahane for the previous two tests, may still make the playing XI for the Johannesburg test.
Rahane for the first time in the series batted ahead of Rohit at nets. He was seen batting alongside Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya. Both the captain and vice-captain returned at the nets for an extended session. Rahane was given short ball practice with a practice ball by Raghavendra and Sanjay Bangar. Rahane’s patience throughout this turmoil has been noteworthy. His technique would be helpful to provide resistance to the Proteas fast bowlers.
The Indian cricketers returned to training after taking some days off post their series loss to South Africa in Centurion even as their counterparts chose to extend their party till Sunday. The players after being involved in a game of soccer headed to the nets area. KL Rahul and Murali Vijay opened the batting at nets indicating that Shikhar Dhawan might have to warm the benches for another test match. But with Rahul getting injured off a delivery at nets by Ishant Sharma, Dhawan will keep his fingers crossed.
Meanwhile, medium pacers Shardul Thakur and Navdeep Saini joined the Indian training session from today. On Sunday, both were seen bowling full steam at their seniors, with Saini almost getting the ball to rise awkwardly on a few occasions.
With just two days to go, the Indian team management will look at the various options they feel will help to avoid a humiliating whitewash, a rare in recent times.