Ravi Shastri picks his Indian XI for the 1st T20I vs South Africa; wants Ruturaj Gaikwad to open ahead of Ishan Kishan

Ravi Shastri has picked his preferred Team India playing XI for the first T20I against South Africa.

The Indian team will face the Proteas in a five-match T20I series, with the first game to be played at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi on June 9. The Indian selectors have named a 18-member squad for the five fixtures, with KL Rahul at the helm in Rohit Sharma’s absence.

During an interaction on the Star Sports show ‘Game Plan’, Shastri picked Rahul and Ruturaj Gaikwad as the likely openers for the first game. He reasoned:

“I think they will go with the guys they will want to see first – the Rahuls, the Ruturaj Gaikwads – maybe they will open. They will probably give Ishan (Kishan) a break in this game or bat him at three.”

The former Team India head coach picked the rest of the batters if Ishan Kishan plays at No. 3. Shastri said:

“If you bat him (Ishan) at three, then it will be Shreyas (Iyer) at No. 4, (Rishabh) Pant at No. 5 and Hardik (Pandya) at No. 6.”

Dinesh Karthik, Deepak Hooda and Venkatesh Iyer are the other batters in the Indian squad who failed to make Ravi Shastri’s likely XI.

“No. 7 will be Axar Patel” – Ravi Shastri on the bowling lineup Team India should go with

Axar Patel is the only bowling all-rounder in the Indian squad
Axar Patel is the only bowling all-rounder in the Indian squad

Shastri shared the bowling lineup Team India are likely to field. He observed:

“No. 7 will be Axar Patel. I think eight will be Bhuvneshwar Kumar batting-wise, then Chahal, Arshdeep Singh/Umran Malik and Harshal Patel. Umran or Arshdeep depending on the ground and what the pitch is like.”

The reputed commentator added that Umran Malik might pip Arshdeep Singh for a spot in the playing XI if Bhuvneshwar Kumar plays. Shastri reasoned:

“I think if Bhuvi plays, then Umran is better because Bhuvi can do a job for you at the death. But then again you are looking for someone at the death, they are looking to develop that bowler. So if Harshal is going to do that, he plays that game.”

Ravi Shastri’s Indian XI for the 1st T20I: KL Rahul, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh/Umran Malik, Harshal Patel.

Also Read: “He can be a very awkward customer” – Ravi Shastri on Umran Malik’s area of improvement in the India vs South Africa T20I series

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Edited by Samya Majumdar