Johannesburg — Virat Kohli will lead an 18-man squad that will attempt to become the first Indian team to win a Test series in South Africa.
The Indian squad, named on Wednesday, includes the nuggetty middle order batter, Ajinkya Rahane, whose spot had been under scrutiny after a lengthy period in which he’d struggled for runs. However Rahane, who received support from Kohli earlier this week, has an outstanding record away from home, with his century at the Melbourne Cricket Ground last summer, a key turning point for India - who didn’t have Kohli at the time - in that series against Australia.
In South Africa, Rahane averages 53.20 in three Tests. Importantly for this tour, he’s not the vice captain with that role going to Rohit Sharma, who was also named as India’s new ODI and T20 captain.
India will match South Africa in the fast bowling stakes, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj and Ishant Sharma, a formidable unit, who have proved themselves on tours to Australia and England in the last year.
Ravindra Jadeja, Shubman Gill, Axar Patel and Rahul Chahar were not available for selection due to injuries.
The three match Test series is a crucial one for both teams. India are chasing history having never won a series in South Africa despite various squads containing some of the greatest players in the sport; including Sachin Tendulkar, India’s current head coach Rahul Dravid, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and VVS Laxman.
For the Proteas, it is an opportunity to continue the growth they started showing in the Caribbean earlier this year when they beat the West Indies 2-0, while also trying to earn some much needed points for the World Test Championship competition.
The first Test starts at SuperSport Park on Boxing Day.
Virat Kohli (Capt), Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant, Wriddhiman Saha, R Ashwin, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj.
Standby Players: Navdeep Saini, Saurabh Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Arzan Nagwaswalla.