Vizianagaram (Andhra Pradesh), Sep 25 (IANS) Rohit Sharma, who has been India’s regular opener in the shorter formats of the game, will have his first stint at the top of the order in red-ball cricket when he leads Board President’s (BP) XI against South Africa in the lone three-day tour game beginning on Thursday.
Rohit, who has been one of India’s premier batsmen in the limited overs set-up, has been given the opportunity to cement his place in the Test side and become a permanent feature in all the three formats by moving him to the top of the order.
The 32-year-old will be challenged by Kagiso Rabada and company and will have a good taste of what he would be up against in the three-Test series which begins on October 2 in Visakhapatnam.
The tour game will also prove to be a good opportunity for Umesh Yadav who has been inducted into the squad as a replacement for the injured Jasprit Bumrah. Bumrah has suffered a minor stress fracture in his lower back and was ruled out on Tuesday.
The game will be a good dress rehearsal before the Visakhapatnam Test as the likes of Ajinkya Rahane and Hanuma Vihari, who were among the runs against the lacklustre bowling line-up of the West Indies, will be facing the quality red ball attack of South Africa, comprising Rabada, Vernon Philander and Lungi Ngidi.
Another player who will be in focus is Karun Nair — India’s second triple centurion after Virender Sehwag. Nair had a poor domestic season last year and even though he was in England for the Test series, he didn’t get a game. Nair will be aiming to score some big runs in order to force the selectors to find a way for him in the squad.
Meanwhile, for the Proteas, regular skipper Faf du Plessis is back with the team and he would be raring to come out and make a statement after he was ignored for the T20I series as Cricket South Africa has decided to try Quinton de Kock in the shorter format.
Squads: Board President’s XI: Rohit Sharma (captain), Mayank Agarwal, Priyank Panchal, AR Easwaran, Karun Nair, Siddhesh Lad, KS Bharat (wicket-keeper), Jalaj Saxena, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, Avesh Khan, Ishan Porel, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav.
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (captain), Temba Bavuma (vc), Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock, Dean Elgar, Zubayr Hamza, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Senuran Muthusamy, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Vernon Philander, Dane Piedt, Kagiso Rabada, Rudi Second.