Former Indian cricketer Aakash Chopra has named his India squad for the upcoming Test series against South Africa, starting December 26 in Centurion. In his formidable troika, Chopra left out vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane and young gun Shubman Gill, who was the third-highest run-scorer for his side in the recently concluded Test series against New Zealand.
Though the BCCI is likely to select a big contingent for the Proteas tour, but Chopra has picked an only 15-man squad for the red-ball series.
Speaking on his YouTube channel, the cricketer-turned commentator started with Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul as his openers.
“I have picked Rohit as my opener, without doubt. I have picked Rahul as my opener, without doubt. Rohit and Rahul was a straightforward decision, they are doing well. They forged a new partnership in England and did very well,” Chopra said.
The 44-year-old cricketer then chose incumbent Cheteshwar Pujara, who is going through a tough patch of his career. Pujara could manage only 95 runs in the two-Test matches against New Zealand at an average of 23.75.
Skipper Virat Kohli and debutant Shreyas Iyer were selected for the No. 4 and No. 5 spot. Chopra has picked Iyer over Rahane, who is struggling for runs since the last two years
On his debut, Iyer smashed a century in the first innings and fifty in the second. The 27-year-old was the second-highest run-scorer in the recently concluded Test series against the Black Caps.
Chopra also backed Rishabh Pant over Wriddhiman Shah for wicket-keeping duties.
Among the spinners, the former cricketer picked Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. Chopra also ruled out Axar Patel, who was the second-highest wicket-taker for India in the home series against New Zealand.
Speaking of the pace attack, Chopra went with the obvious choice in Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah. Talking about the third seamer, the former opener picked Mohammed Siraj ahead of Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma.
“After that, it is very simple. There is Bumrah and Shami, there is no discussion and debate in that. Everyone will keep them in the team. After that, I have kept Siraj at No. 11. He has leapfrogged everyone, he has become the third pacer,” Chopra concluded.
Aakash Chopra’s India squad for South Africa tour: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Mayank Agarwal, Hanuma Vihari, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav