The time has come for the captain and the coach to make the right call for the upcoming Test series. India Test skipper Virat Kohli and interim coach Ravi Shastri have a plethora of options to choose from, but they are in some sort of a fix to chalk out the final XI that will come out to play against South Africa.
The first Test starts from 7 November at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali. Kohli would want India to bounce back in the Test series after losing both the T20 and ODI series.
Kohli led India to a historic Test series victory against Sri Lanka earlier this year and fans would expect him to clinch the Test series against Proteas also. Indian players know that facing the world No. 1 Test side is not going to be easy. Kohli and Shastri will be aware of the fact that South Africa have an outstanding record in Test matches played overseas as they have not lost a Test series abroad since 2001.
The wickets and the tricky conditions are likely to favour the Indian players. Although the same was supposed to happen during the ODI and the T20 series, the results proved that neither the wickets nor the conditions hepled India. But this is the longest format of the game. Turning wickets and dicey conditions will test the visiting team's character.
Coming to the playing XI, Kohli will have to decide on who will be opening the batting alongside Murali Vijay. Shikhar Dhawan has not been in good form with the willow, though in the last few Test matches, he has slammed a number of hundreds. The left-handed bastman from Delhi will be under extreme pressure as KL Rahul is not far away from claiming his spot. Rahul too has scored a couple of hundreds already in his career. Cheteshwar Pujara is also an option as his century after he opened the batting, proved to be crucial in the third and final Test match against Sri Lanka. Rohit Sharma's place in the Test side might also be handed to the fifth bowler but we will have to wait and watch until 5 November.
The India Test skipper is a fan of aggression and likes to field five bowlers. That being the case, the inclusion of Ravindra Jadeja might proved to be handy. Jadeja was left out of the India squad after a series of awful performances but the Saurashtra lad has bounced back and has picked up 37 wickets in three Ranji Trophy matches this season. Ravichandran Ashwin has not recovered completely and Amit Mishra's off-the-field issue has also not been solved yet. That might just push Kohli to pick Jadeja and in case the wicket turns out to be a rank turner, he can be deadly.