Will skipper Kohli be rested?

Teams for final Test and South Africa series to be announced tomorrow

Will skipper Kohli be rested?

Will Virat Kohli be rested for the last Test in Delhi and the limited-overs leg of the series against Sri Lanka? Will pacer Jasprit Bumrah board the flight to South Africa for the three-Test series, starting January 5 next year or chinaman Kuldeep Yadav will be the third spinner? Will Parthiv Patel be added as a back-up wicketkeeper for what is going to be grueling tour?

All these questions and more will be answered when the MSK Prasad-headed Senior National Selection committee meets here on Monday to pick the squads for the final Test, the limited-overs part (three ODIs and as many T20Is) against Sri Lanka and the three Tests in South Africa.

The immediate interest around the meeting is going to be whether Kohli -- who has been vocal about better planning of India's international schedule so that players can rest and recuperate -- would take a break after missing just one Test and a few IPL matches this year. While there is a speculation that he is likely to take rest due to personal reasons, just like Bhuvneshwar Kumar did after the first Test in Kolkata, there is a case for the skipper, who has played more matches than any other cricketer in the world this year.

Kohli had also given a hint about it on the eve of the first Test in Kolkata. "Definitely, I do need a rest! Why don't I need a rest? When I think my body should be rested, I'll ask for it. I'm not a robot. You can slice my skin and check, I bleed," he had said when asked if he would ever need rest.

The more crucial aspect of the meeting would be the composition for the South African sojourn. The 15 of the possible 17-member squad will pick itself – 13 from the present squad, excluding Vijay Shankar, plus Shikhar Dhawan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The debate will likely be around whether to carry five specialist fast bowlers plus an all-rounder in Hardik Pandya or pick three spinners at the expense of an extra pacer.

With Kohli already having made it clear that there is little chance of fielding two spinners in a match, three slow bowlers may appear one too many. But the theory that Kuldeep will be more effective for his ability to turn the ball on the bouncy South African tracks, may weigh the opinion in his favour. In the meantime, the chorus to include Bumrah in Tests has been growing. The Gujarat seamer has been impressive in limited-overs cricket, and experts feel his ability to swing and seam will add to his India's strength in South Africa.

While one of Bumrah and Kuldeep will complete a 16-member squad, Parthiv could be the 17th member what with the new rule allowing the substitute fielder to keep wickets in case of an injury to wicketkeeper during the course of a match.

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