After India A won a five-match one-day series against South Africa A 4-1, the two sides will play an unofficial Test match series consisting of two matches, with the first game set to get underway on Monday (September 9).
The one-day matches, which were largely affected by rain, saw a star-studded India A side easily dispatch of their South African counterparts.
But while India’s squad in the one-day games consisted of many established names, the same cannot be said about the Test side.
Shubman Gill will renew his quest for selection into the senior team as he will lead the team in the first of the two four-day matches, with veteran keeper Wriddhiman Saha captaining in the second.
The teams for both the matches are a mix of experience and youth. The first game will see Karnataka all-rounder Krishnappa Gowtham and Andhra wicket-keeper KS Bharat in the fray.
The former was in his element during the ‘A’ team’s tour of the Caribbean and shone in the Karnataka Premier League too.
Bharat has showcased his skills with the gloves and bat in the several games he has played for India ‘A’ in the recent past and has been close to selection in the senior team.
With Rishabh Pant becoming the first-choice ‘keeper across formats in the absence of MS Dhoni and with the selectors likely to manage his workload, the focus will be on the likes of Bharat and Saha to replace him whenever he is given a break.
Eyes will also be on openers Priyank Panchal and Abhimanyu Easwaran during the second match that will be played in Mysuru from September 17.
Panchal and Easwarn have scored heavily for Gujarat and Bengal respectively in the past few seasons with the latter slamming a big century in the Duleep Trophy final that ended on Saturday.
With K L Rahul not in the best of form, the duo will be keen to put in a strong performance against a quality SA ‘A’ attack.
All-rounders Vijay Shankar and Shivam Dube will figure in both matches. Shankar returned mid-way from the World Cup due to an injury and made a comeback during the TNPL only to get injured again and miss the limited-overs leg of ‘A’ series.
Mumbai batsman Dube, on the other hand, has impressed in the recent five-match unofficial ODIs against SA ‘A’, showing an ability to get quick runs. He will be eager to perform in the longer format too.
The Proteas ‘A’ team, led by Aiden Markram, seen as a future senior team captain, includes several players with international experience.
Markram and co. will look to gain experience of playing in sub-continent with the Test series to follow the T20 Internationals.
The series will also serve as good preparation for Ngidi, who is part of the Test squad. He had struggled with a hamstring injury during the World Cup and played only four of the side’s nine matches in the tournament in England.
India A: Shubman Gill (captain), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Anmolpreet Singh, Ricky Bhui, Ankeet Bawne, KS Bharat (wicket-keeper), K Gowtham, Shahbaz Nadeem, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj, Tushar Deshpande, Shivam Dube, Vijay Shankar.
South Africa A: Aiden Markram (captain), Theunis de Bruyn, Zubayr Hamza, Lungi Ngidi, George Linde, Pieter Malan, Eddie Moore, Senuran Muthusamy, Marco Jansen, Dane Piedt, Wiaan Mulder, Heinrich Klaasen, Lutho Sipamla, Khaya Zondo.