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Rohit Sharma, Umesh Yadav in Focus as Board President's XI Take on South Africa

All eyes will be on Rohit Sharma as he prepares to take up the opener's slot when he leads the Board President's XI in a three-day game against South Africa in Vizianagaram on Thursday.

Cricketnext Staff |September 25, 2019, 6:00 PM IST
Rohit Sharma, Umesh Yadav in Focus as Board President's XI Take on South Africa

All eyes will be on Rohit Sharma as he prepares to take up the opener's slot when he leads the Board President's XI in a three-day warm-up game against South Africa in Vizianagaram on Thursday.

With the national selection committee and the team management deciding to promote Rohit as an opener, the next five Tests could be a make or break for the 32-year-old.

He will have Mayank Agarwal for company and the two would look to get comfortable with each other before the first Test starting on October 2 in Visakhapatnam.

A modern-day great in white-ball cricket, Rohit's average of 39.62 in 27 Tests, including three hundreds, doesn't do justice to his talent.

Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane and Hanuma Vihari consolidated their middle-order slots with impressive performances in the West Indies and the only remaining option for Rohit was to open.

The three-day game against the quality South Afriacn attack, comprising Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander and Lungi Ngidi, will be a good dress rehearsal before the opening game in Visakhapatnam.

Rohit's technique against the moving red ball has been suspect but this is a risk that Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri are ready to take keeping Virender Sehwag's stupendous success in mind.

If it clicks, this will be considered a masterstroke but if it doesn't, the A team's supply line of openers comprising Shubman Gill, Abhimanyu Easwaran and Priyank Panchal will be there to fill in.

Even if Rohit succeeds on the low and slow sub-continental tracks, there's no guarantee that he would be able to replicate it on the grounds in New Zealand, where Trent Boult promises to bring it back in repeatedly.

The road ahead will be tricky for one of India's finest ODI openers as the next six months will decide his fate in the game's traditional format.

Umesh Yadav, who has been drafted into the Test side as an injured Jasprit Bumrah's replacement, will also be looking to get back into the groove of things.

Squads

Board President's XI: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Mayank Agarwal, Priyank Panchal, AR Easwaran, Karun Nair, Siddhesh Lad, KS Bharat (wicket-keeper), Jalaj Saxena, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, Avesh Khan, Ishan Porel, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav

South Africa: Faf du Plessis (c), Temba Bavuma (vc), Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock, Dean Elgar, Zubayr Hamza, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Senuran Muthusamy, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Vernon Philander, Dane Piedt, Kagiso Rabada, Rudi Second.

(With PTI inputs)

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