Rahul likely to replace Dhawan for Centurion Test

Last Updated: Thu, Jan 11, 2018 12:48 hrs
KL Rahul awaits for his turn at the India nets

India skipper Virat Kohli is yet to field an unchanged XI as Test skipper and after the first Test loss at Cape Town, the trend might continue as India are set to make some changes.

According to a report in a leading daily, India opener KL Rahul in all certainty will replace Shikhar Dhawan and will partner Murali Vijay.

Dhawan was picked ahead of Rahul and the left-right combination didn't work for India as Dhawan failed to give India a good start in both the innings.

In contrast, the Karnataka batsman has been in good touch and with both the openers failing in the first Test, Rahul is likely to pad up along with Vijay for the second Test at Centurion, starting Saturday.

Rahul's case becomes all the stronger as Dhawan was sloppy in the field and even dropped a catch in the first innings, denying Bhuvneshwar Kumar a five-wicket haul.

Vijay is unlikely to be dropped as the Tamil Nadu batsman has got more experience in South Africa and will hold the key for India.

There is also another school of thought doing rounds. Some experts suggest that India might draft in Parthiv Patel instead of Dhawan as Parthiv is capable of giving flying starts, which is the key on South African pitches.

Meanwhile, Rohit Sharma's inclusion in place of vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane has raised much debate. Despite Rohit failing in both the innings, Virat Kohli and the team management are keen on giving the middle-order batsman yet another chance.

Speaking after the match at Newlands, Kohli said that Rohit was picked over Rahane based on current form.

"Rohit has scored runs in the last three Test matches that he has played, and he was batting well, even in the series against Sri Lanka," said Kohli in the post-match media conference.

"These things can always be looked at in hindsight -- thinking what if or what if not. But we decided to go with this combination and current form was definitely the criterion," added Kohli.

Although Rahane has been out of form of late, he was one of the star performers with the bat when India toured South Africa four years ago.

Rahane with 209 runs was the third highest run-getter behind Kohli (272 runs) and Cheteshwar Pujara (280). However, skipper Kohli wants to give Rohit yet another chance. 

Rahane can only be drafted in the side if India decides to go with four pacers, which means leaving out R Ashwin, which is highly unlikely.

Similarly, in the pace department, Jasprit Bumrah was handed debut straightaway with the more experienced likes of Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav warming the benches.

Although there has been no word on the bowling combination, Ishant was seen sweating at the nets giving indications that Kohli might be tempted to give him a go.

India had a golden opportunity to take a 1-0 lead but having lost the Cape Town Test by 72 runs, Kohli and his men need to win the Centurion Test to level the series.

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