Captain Virat Kohli has confirmed the inclusion of the more experienced Wriddhiman Saha ahead of fellow wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant in India’s XI for this week’s first Test against the Proteas in Visakhapatnam.
Saha has not played Test cricket since early 2018. That Test was against South Africa at Newlands in Cape Town, where he fell for a duck and eight.
‘Yes, Saha is fit and fine to go, and he’s going to start for us, this series, and his keeping credentials are there for everyone to see. He’s played well for us whenever he’s got a chance, with the bat also, and according to me he’s the best keeper in the world, so in these conditions, with what he’s done in the past, he starts for us,’ said Kohli.
Kohli, too, confirmed the recall of spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. The veteran Ashwin has recovered from the abdomen injury that prevented participation in international cricket for several months.
‘Yes, Ashwin will start. Ashwin and Jadeja, both will start here. But look, wherever the conditions provide us to go ahead with two spinners, obviously Ash is going to be a threat, and in home conditions, with his batting credentials, and the way he bowls as well, he’s always going to be starting, so that was a no-brainer for us,’ added Kohli.
The hosts will be without fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah, who has been sidelined by a back injury. The International Cricket Council’s No 1-ranked bowler in Test cricket has been ruled out of the three-match series.
‘If it is just a stress reaction, he could be fine in about four to six weeks with an active rehabilitation programme. But if it is further along the bone-stress injury spectrum than this, then it could need three to six months. If the stress fracture is bilateral – a crack on both sides of the same vertebrae – then it might be more than year or longer,’ said former India physiotherapist Andrew Leipus.
India XI: Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane (v-c), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami.
Photo: Getty Images