New Delhi, November 30

T

he Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced India's squad for the South Africa tour, which will begin in less than a fortnight has seen some much-awaited comebacks but also the absence of some of the most renowned faces especially in the Test format.

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KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer and Jasprit Bumrah players who made a major impression have fully healed from their injuries and will make their comebacks to India's Test squad for the two-match series in South Africa.

On the other hand, Ajinkya Rahane who was a part of India's squad and the Test vice-captain for the West Indies tour earlier this year has been dropped. Cheteshwar Pujara who is another player famed for his skill set in red ball cricket has failed to find his way back again in the squad.

While Rahane retained his place, Pujara who was also a part of India's squad for the World Test Championship final against Australia was dropped from the squad for the West Indies tour in the new World Test Championship cycle.

Pujara at that time said that he wanted to prove himself and took it as a challenge has probably made his last Test appearance for India in the WTC final.

"There have been ups and downs in the last few years and it tests you as a player because having played say more than 90 Test matches, when I got dropped, I still had to prove myself, I still had to prove that I belonged there. It's a different type of challenge," Pujara said in The Final Word podcast as quoted by ESPNcricinfo.

As India continues to venture deep in the new WTC cycle it is hard to forget that Pujara was the second-highest run-scorer for India in the 2021-23 WTC cycle where he scored 928 runs at an average of 32.00. Virat Kohli was the only player ahead of him with 932 at 32.13.

Coming to the players who have made their way back into the team haven't had any Test experience for a good amount of time. The star Indian pacer Bumrah last played a Test more than 17 months ago, against England in Birmingham.

Since making his comeback in the T20I and ODI formats from a back injury, Bumrah has slowly managed his workload across white-ball formats.

Iyer's presence in the squad could be directly anticipated as Rahane's replacement for the No.5 spot. Coming to the player who could take Pujara's No.3 spot could be Shubman Gill.

With dynamic opener Yashasvi Jaiswal as part of the Test squad, he is likely to open alongside skipper Rohit Sharma, offering the left-hand-right-hand combination.

Another area to look at during India's tour of South Africa will be the performance of players from the India A squad.

Abhimanyu Easwaran has been named in the Bharat-led India A squad for both the four-day games against South Africa as well as in the pool of Indian players for the intra-squad. However, his selection remains subject to fitness.

Another set of players to look for, especially in the bowling and all-rounder section will be Delhi's fast-bowling allrounder Harshit Rana. The 21-year-old all-rounder in List A has scalped 18 after making 12 appearances.

Karnataka's right-arm pacer Vidwath Kaverappa and Rajasthan left-arm spinner Manav Suthar for the four-day Test will also be the players to look out for after they impressed in the domestic format.

Vidwath in 17 List A matches has claimed remarkable 37 wickets at a bowling average of 14.91. Suthar on the other hand has been exceptional in First Class cricket as in 8 matches he has claimed 44 wickets with a bowling average of 21.13.

Sarfaraz Khan and Tilak Varma are also among the mix of batters in the red-ball clash but both players are widely renowned for their skill set in white-ball cricket. Both players have made their mark for their respective franchises in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

India's Test Squad: Rohit Sharma (capt), Shubman Gill, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan (wk), KL Rahul (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah (vice-capt), Prasidh Krishna.

India A squad for the first four-day match: Sai Sudharsan, Abhimanyu Easwaran*, Devdutt Padikkal, Pradosh Ranjan Paul, Sarfaraz Khan, KS Bharat (C)(wk), Dhruv Jurel, Shardul Thakur, Pulkit Narang, Sourabh Kumar, Manav Suthar, Prasidh Krishna, Akash Deep, Vidhwath Kaverappa, Tushar Deshpande.

India A squad for second four-day match: Sai Sudharsan, Abhimanyu Easwaran*, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Tilak Varma, KS Bharat (C)(wk), Dhruv Jurel (wk), Washington Sundar, Axar Patel, Harshit Rana, Kuldeep Yadav, Manav Suthar, Akash Deep, Vidhwath Kaverappa, Navdeep Saini.

Experience makes way for emerging talents and known faces for India's Test series against South Africa

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