KL Rahul to replace Shikhar Dhawan for 2nd Test


JOHANNESBURG: In a Test match build-up, few elements make for a juicy debate the way dissecting a combination of the playing eleven does. Why this batsman and why not that. Why a five-bowler attack at the cost of an extra batsman. Why risk a debutant in place of an experienced Test cap.

Experts rarely come to an agreement on these issues with opinions alone adding to the build-up of a game like little else. The Cape Town Test, one that India lost to South Africa by 72 runs in almost four days, with one of those days getting robbed by rain, led to one such build-up. The young debutant Jasprit Bumrah’s selection over the more experienced Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav wasn’t spared either, except that the bowler with the unorthodox action, mere 24 years of age, put an end to this one debate after bowling the spell of the Test match.

Benching Lokesh Rahul to open with Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay; benching Ajinkya Rahane at No. 5 and opting for Rohit Sharma; and not roping in the tall Ishant Sharma to take advantage of the Newlands wicket still remain a topic of discussion and will continue to, perhaps, until the start of the second Test.

Amidst all this noise generated by various talking heads, TOI can confirm that Karnataka opener Lokesh Rahul – who sat in the first Test – will return to the playing eleven at the Centurion for the second Test match starting Saturday.

The case for Rahul being included in the first Test itself looked justified, given that the 25-year-old was in good touch, barring the last Test match he played in Nagpur. With both Dhawan and Vijay not doing themselves any favours, especially the former for having been sloppy in the field too, the team management can be expected to take some stern decisions.

Rahul could make his way back at the cost of Dhawan and not Vijay, given that the latter still happens to be a more experienced hand given the conditions in South African. Yet, it’ll have to be seen what skipper Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri have in mind after they visit Centurion on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the debate over picking Rohit Sharma ahead of Ajinkya Rahane is likely to continue because the team will continue with the former over the latter simply because of the form and runs he carried with him from the home series against Sri Lanka.

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