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The Indian team management announced the playing XI for the first Test of Paytm Freedom Series for Gandhi-Mandela Trophy against South Africa. The Test beginning on October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi will be played at the ACA-VDCA Stadium, Visakhapatnam.
While Virat Kohli will continue to lead the side and Ajinkya Rahane will be his deputy, the upcoming Test will witness Rohit Sharma, India’s vice-captain in the limited overs format, opening the batting against the red ball.
Wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha, who was sidelined following a shoulder injury, will stand behind the stumps for the first time since he last played a Test in January 2018. It was Rishabh Pant who kept wickets during India’s last Test series in the Caribbean.
The Indian captain called him the best wicket-keeper in the world currently and said that he was quite close to breaking into the XI in the Caribbean too. “Saha’s keeping credentials are there for everyone to see. He's played well for us whenever he's got a chance with the bat for us also. It was unfortunate that he was out for such a long period with an injury, and according to me he's the best keeper in the world. In these conditions, and with what he's done for us in the past, he'll start for us,” Virat said at the pre-match press conference on Tuesday.
R Ashwin, India’s premier off spinner, will also return to the playing XI following his last outing in the Adelaide Test. Like Saha, Ashwin too was part of the Indian squad but did not feature in any of the three Tests in the Caribbean. The spin bowling duties will be shared by Ravindra Jadeja and India also have an additional option in Hanuma Vihari.
Team India for first Test: Virat Kohli (Captain), Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, R Ashwin, R Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha (wicet-keeper), Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami.