Nagpur: Virat Kohli will get much-needed rest for the second half of the Sri Lanka series while yorker specialist Jasprit Bumrah would fight for the extra bowler's slot with chinaman Kuldeep Yadav when the national selectors pick the squad for South Africa Test series here on Monday.
In all the national selection committee will announce four separate squads. One will be for the third Test against Sri Lanka followed by ODI and T20 squads and the big one Test squad for the South Africa series.
Kohli, who has been playing non-stop cricket since IPL, will be given a month's break to recharge his batteries as he is sure to skip the limited overs series (3 ODIs and 3 T20 Internationals) against Sri Lanka in December, where Rohit Sharma will be in charge.
In case Kohli also decides to opt out of third Test against Sri Lanka in New Delhi, starting December 2, then Ajinkya Rahane will be leading the side.
However, the focus of attention during Monday’s selection meeting will be on the tour to South Africa, which will be the first big test of Kohli's men against a top side in overseas condition.
It is expected to be a 17-member squad that will travel to South Africa and the main call will be whether India would go with four frontline pacers and three specialist spinners or five specialist pacers with two slow bowlers.
Jasprit Bumrah, who has been India's key pacer in white ball cricket, is certainly in contention for a slot for the extra pacer. The four pacers – Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav are automatic picks.
Delhi's Navdeep Saini could be a dark horse if MSK Prasad-led three-man committee wants some surprise element. There is a school of thought that with Hardik Pandya taking the all-rounder's slot, he will be the fifth pacer in the squad which can allow a wrist spinner – one among Kuldeep Yadav or Yuzvendra Chahal to be fitted in along with Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
The seven batsmen – three openers and four middle-order player however select themselves.
The three openers will be KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay while four middle order batsmen are skipper Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara. Wriddhiman Saha will be the first wicketkeeper while Parthiv Patel, who has been the second choice in longest format is expected to board the South Africa bound flight.
Closer home, the limited overs squad for the Sri Lanka series is unlikely to have many surprises.
Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer are set to make comeback in the team while Mohammed Siraj is expected to be included in the T20 set-up. The likes of Basil Thampi, Washington Sundar could also be tried out keeping an eye on future.
The selection meeting will happen at the end of the fourth day's play of the ongoing second Test match between India and Sri Lanka....