The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) selectors will meet on Monday (November 27) to pick the all-important Test squad for the upcoming tour of South Africa. Besides this, they will also select the ODI and T20I teams for the Sri Lanka series at home.
However, it is the Test squad, which will be looked upon with much interest, especially after India having dominated world cricket at home. The real test for the India team will be on foreign pitches, so the selectors need to pick a solid team, which will suit the conditions.
There is no confirmation if the selectors will pick a 16 or 17-member squad, however, here is the likely squad that will fly to South Africa.
Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul are obvious picks for the opening slots, so the selectors do not have to think much about the trio before picking them. However, Virat Kohli and the team management might have a problem when picking the playing XI. Vijay, Shikhar could be given that role in South Africa.
Chetweshwar Pujara and Kohli are going to be the backbone of the India batting line-up in South Africa. Besides the two, India will have to depend on Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma, who should book their flight to South Africa.
The selectors might have a look at some alternatives such as Dinesh Karthik, who can also be used as a back-up wicket-keeper, in the middle order, but they should stick with out-of-form Rahane, whose batting could be suited to South Africa condition.
Hardik Pandya is going to be another key player in South Africa, considering he will be used as the fourth seamer in the playing XI. Pandya will also need to contribute with the bat. If Pandya gets injured or so, the entire team balance gets disturbed, so they might think of someone, who can be handy with both bat and ball like Pandya. The problem has been finding quality all-rounders in India.
Wriddhiman Saha is the obvious and straight choice for the selectors, who might also consider Karthik as the second option, considering the Tamil Nadu man has good experience of away tours.
Though the selectors might not spend much time on picking the batsmen for the South Africa tour, selecting spinners could prove to be a headache. If they want to take three spinners, it might be easier, with Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav. However, if the selectors decide to go with just two, Kuldeep might miss out.
In all probability, India will go in with three spinners.
Normally in Indian conditions, the home team plays two spinners and two pacers, but that is going to change in away conditions like South Africa. India will depend on their pacers to take wickets.
Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma are sure names in the squad. It also remains to be seen if the selectors pick 17-member squad. And if they do so, Jasprit Bumrah could get the nod as the fifth pacer too.
Possible squad: Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (captain), Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, Wriddhiman Saha (wicketkeeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah.