India’s concern over fast, seaming pitches in South Africa has prompted a call-up for rookie Jasprit Bumrah, who has not played first-class cricket for almost a year.
India announced their 17-man squad for the three-Test series, which begins on 5 January at Newlands, putting in five specialist fast bowlers, as well as all-rounder Hardik Pandya.
The selectors are using Bumrah’s form in one-dayers as a yardstick. They believe his ability to swing the ball into the right-handers and his searing pace gave him the edge. In limited-overs he has taken 35 wickets; the fourth-highest wicket-taker in ODIs in 2017. But his last appearance in first-class-cricket was for Gujarat in the 2016-17 Ranji Trophy semi-final against Jharkhand in January.
Pandya, as well as Bhuvneshwar Kumar, return after voluntary breaks from the home Test series against Sri Lanka, replacing left-arm wristspinner Kuldeep Yadav and allrounder Vijay Shankar.
The two principal spinners will be Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
India will depart for South Africa on 27 December and start their tour with a two-day warm-up match in Paarl on 30 and 31 December.
Squad: Virat Kohli (c), Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vc), Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Parthiv Patel, Jasprit Bumrah