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Other SportsSouth Africa v India 1st Test: Preview, team news, squads and prediction

South Africa v India 1st Test: Preview, team news, squads and prediction

The State of Play

Having seen their young white-ball sides achieve success in this month’s T20I and One-Day International series in South Africa, India’s Test team will look to follow in their footsteps when the first of two matches begins in Centurion on Boxing Day.

Sanju Samson’s maiden ODI century made him the hero as the Proteas were beaten by 78 runs in Paarl on Thursday, but India will be rolling out the big guns for the red-ball leg of this tour, with several stars returning after being rested in the build-up to Christmas.

Rohit Sharma will captain the team on his first international outing since last month’s World Cup final heartbreak, while Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer also return to the fold.

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India have lost their last two Tests against South Africa after winning the previous four, though they will hope the fact that their last red-ball victory over the Proteas came in a match starting on Boxing Day 2021 is a good omen.

For the hosts, this series will be their last with stalwart batsman and former Test captain Dean Elgar, who will retire from international cricket upon the conclusion of the second match in Cape Town.

Temba Bavuma returns to lead the hosts as they seek a positive start to their new ICC World Test Championship cycle. The skipper was rested throughout the limited-overs leg of India’s tour, which saw the Proteas lose three of five completed contests overall.

Will a change of format bring South Africa’s fans some much-needed festive cheer?

Team News

South Africa are hoping Kagiso Rabada will be available after a heel injury forced him to skip domestic first-class fixtures in advance of this series. Seamer Nandre Burger could make his Test debut after impressing across the white-ball leg of the tour, while David Bedingham and Tristan Stubbs are also hoping to make their red-ball bows.

Kohli returned to India late last week, though it was thought likely that he would rejoin the squad for the Test series. Ishan Kishan has withdrawn for personal reasons, with KS Bharat coming in as his replacement.

Meanwhile, Mohammed Shami has been sidelined by an ankle injury, while Ruturaj Gaikwad will miss out with a finger problem.

Test Squads

South Africa: Temba Bavuma (c), David Bedingham, Nandre Burger, Gerald Coetzee, Tony de Zorzi, Dean Elgar, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Keegan Petersen, Kagiso Rabada, Tristan Stubbs, Kyle Verreynne (wk).

India: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah (vc), Prasidh Krishna, KS Bharat (wk).

When and how to watch

The two Test matches will both be shown live by Sky Sports either side of New Year’s Day. Viewers in the United Kingdom can catch all the action by tuning in to Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Cricket from 07:00 on December 26.

Prediction

Unfortunately for the home fans, the return of big names including Rohit, Gill and Kohli could be enough to see India continue their unbeaten start to this World Test Championship cycle.

We’re backing Kohli to make the difference in the first Test, with the right-hander already boasting a century and a fifty across India’s two completed red-ball matches in the 2023-25 cycle (against the West Indies). The 35-year-old has 719 runs in 14 innings when playing Test matches in South Africa, and he could play a prominent role in another morale-boosting victory for the tourists.

 

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Harry Carr
Harry Carr
Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.
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