South Africa vs India 2021: India's predicted playing XI for 3rd Test South Africa vs India 2021: India's predicted playing XI for 3rd Test

South Africa vs India 2021: India’s predicted playing XI for 3rd Test

Will Hanuma Vihari be the scapegoat again for the 3rd Test?

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – JANUARY 03: Indian players (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

India’s excellent run against South Africa in Tests finally came to an end as the hosts carried out an inspiring comeback in the second Test at the Wanderers. Dean Elgar’s gritty knock in the fourth innings chase meant that India’s wait for a series victory in the South Africa soil continues and it will be down to the Cape Town Test to decide if the visitors can rewrite history.

India will feel massively boosted by the return of Virat Kohli who is more than just a batter on the side. The skipper does bring in a lot of energy which seemed to be missing in the second Test and there could be a dilemma in deciding who makes way for him. The injury to Mohammed Siraj will also make way for either of the benched pacers to get a go against the Proteas batters.

There have been no doubts over the quality of the Indian side while the Proteas keep surprising with excellent performances out of nowhere. The Cape Town weather looks promising as well with no rain expected until the final day and it will be down to the Indian management to pick the player who will be left out in the return of Kohli. Here is India’s predicted playing XI for the 3rd Test.

Openers – KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal

KL Rahul
KL Rahul. (Photo by PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP via Getty Images)

The vice-captain of the side, KL Rahul will be the first choice opener for India in the third Test and he has scored the most runs so far for the visitors in the series. The Karnataka lad has left deliveries in the off stump to perfection so far and his magnificent century in Centurion played a big part in India’s win. He failed to convert his start in the first innings at Wanderers after scoring a half-century and he will look to make up for it.

Mayank Agarwal is expected to partner Rahul at the top of the order as he did in the first two games. Agarwal has been very impressed with his cover drives and his scoring rate has left the Proteas thinking a lot at times. He has been getting starts in the last three innings but has failed to convert into a big hundred which he has done in the past.

Middle-order – Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant

Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane
Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane. (Photo by PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP via Getty Images)

Cheteshwar Pujara has been struggling for runs in the last two years especially and he needs to get his act right soon. He played aggressively in the second innings at the Wanderers with a 53 run knock in tough conditions and it might be enough to hold his place in the XI. However, he will feel the pressure for a big knock as Iyer and Vihari have been using their opportunities to the fullest.

Ajinkya Rahane has shown better technique in the last few outings despite getting out cheaply at times. His fluency while batting remains a hallmark of his game but an average of 20.83 in 2021 is not going to help him by any means in terms of his career spanning out. The 33-year-old will look to make a big score after missing out to capitalize on the last innings.

Virat Kohli is all set to replace Hanuma Vihari in the playing XI and the latter will be unfortunate to miss out despite the technique he has shown. Kohli has been going through a rough patch as well in 2021 and he would like to start the year on a high. He is yet to score a century in the last two years in international cricket which is no way near his standards and will look to end the drought soon.

Rishabh Pant will be under huge pressure in the third Test to not throw his wicket away as he did in the second innings at Wanderers. He has been facing a lot of criticism from the experts for not playing the game according to the need of the hour but is expected to get backing from the management. He can turn around a match in a very quick time and should continue as the first choice wicket-keeping option.

All-rounders – Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur

Ravichandran Ashwin
Ravichandran Ashwin. (Photo Source: Twitter/BCCI)

Ravichandran Ashwin hasn’t had many roles to play with the ball so far in the series picking just three wickets in 2 Tests. The pitches have assisted the seam bowlers well while not offering much for the spinners. Ashwin will be needed more like a batter at number 7 and is expected to keep hold of his place.

Shardul Thakur was India’s biggest positive from the second Test in which he picked up his best figures of 7 for 61 in Tests. He wasn’t used until the 35th over the mark and there were a lot of questions raised over his role in the side being the fourth seamer. He answered in the best possible way with both bat and ball and made a crucial contribution of 28 in the second innings.

Bowlers – Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav

Jasprit Bumrah
Jasprit Bumrah. (Photo Source: ICC)

Jasprit Bumrah will lead India’s pace attack in the bowling lineup and he will definitely like to bowl better lengths than he bowled in the second innings in Johannesburg. He has been not been taking many wickets despite bowling really well in the first two Tests and he would like to add more to his wickets tally. He is yet to bring out his best spell of bowling and the stage is set for him to deliver in the third Test.

Mohammed Shami had a fantastic outing in the first Test victory and he played a pivotal role in winning the Centurion Test with a fifer. He bowled a lot of loose deliveries in the second Test which did not help the side in the context of the game and will look for improved performance in the third Test.

Umesh Yadav is likely to be picked ahead of Ishant Sharma going by the recent numbers. Umesh did really well in England in the fourth Test he played and he can extract a lot from the pitch with his pace and bounce. The Vidarbha lad is a far better bowler in away conditions than his numbers suggest.

Predicted XI: KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav