India’s Playing XI For The Third Test If Virat Kohli Returns

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India’s Playing XI For The Third Test If Virat Kohli Returns: South Africa registered a memorable 7-wicket win in the second Test against India at the Wanderers to level the series having lost the first Test in Centurion by 113 runs. Protea skipper Dean Elgar led from the front with the bat with a gritty 96*.

India, on the other hand, were without their charismatic captain Virat Kohli, who was ruled out due to back spasms, and opener KL Rahul led the Test side for the first time in his career.

Virat Kohli is expected to return for the third Test, starting Tuesday in Cape Town. The question remains who will Virat Kohli replace in the eleven? Given that both Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane made fluent fifties in India’s second innings, while Kohli’s replacement, Hanuma Viahri, too, scored a solid 40*, the management is left in a dilemma. Or will they change the bowling combination and go in with just 4 bowlers?

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This is India’s expected playing XI for the third Test if Virat Kohli returns:

Openers: Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul

KL Rahul, the leading run-scorer of the series so far and India’s vice-captain, will once again have a huge responsibility to provide the side with a solid start. He’s scored 204 runs with a century and a fifty.

Partnering Rahul at the top will be Mayank Agarwal, who has scored 113 runs with a best of 60. An argument can be made for Hanuma Vihari to be shifted at the top of the order, however, with Agarwal already having gained some success and experience of the conditions to open the innings, he is likely to continue in the eleven as an opener.

Middle-order: Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane

Pujara and Rahane went into the second Test with perhaps their places on the line. Both made stunning counter-attacking fifties in the second innings, and have all but sealed their places for the third Test.

This means that Vihari would be the likeliest candidate to face the axe in order to accommodate Kohli back in the eleven.

Wicket-keeper: Rishabh Pant

Although head coach Rahul Dravid said that he’d be having a conversation with Rishabh Pant for his shot-selection – Pant got out to a horror shot in the second innings – the youngster will continue in the line-up after a terrific 2021. Pant has managed only 59 runs in 4 innings so far in this series.

All-rounders: R Ashwin, Shardul Thakur

Shardul Thakur silenced his doubters with a record-breaking 7/61 in Jo’burg – the best bowling figures by an Indian in a Test innings on South African soil.

Off-spinner R Ashwin, who has taken three wickets so far in the series, played a couple of crucial knocks with the bat in the second Test. Kohli likes to have the luxury of 5 bowlers in overseas Test, and it is expected that he’ll continue to play Ashwin as the all-rounder at number 7.

Pacers: Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav

Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah have taken a combined 17 wickets in the 2 Tests and, barring any late injury, will continue to lead India’s pace attack in Cape Town. However, there are doubts over Mohammed Siraj after the seamer injured his hamstring in Johannesburg and could bowl only 15.5 overs.

India are unlikely to risk Siraj unless he’s 100 percent fit. They have the experienced pair of Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav- the latter is likely to get the nod after his brilliant 6-wicket match haul at the Oval last year.

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