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India vs South Africa: Ravi Shastri picks India’s best XI for the first T20I

Former Team India head coach Ravi Shastri picked his best playing XI for India’s opening T20I against South Africa to be played on Thursday, June 9 at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in New Delhi. The veteran picked Ruturaj Gaikwad and KL Rahul as his two opening batters.

Shastri, whose tenure with the Men in Blue ended following India’s early exit in the T20 World Cup 2021, picked Ishan Kishan, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant as the middle-order batters.

He also went for Hardik Pandya, who made a comeback into the Indian team after his stupendous performance for the Gujarat Titans (GT) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022.

“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,” Shastri was quoted as saying on Star Sports show ‘Game Plan’.

“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,” he stated.

Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Yuzvendra Chahal were Shastri’s sure-shot choices in the bowling department. But he was in two minds about the selection of Arshdeep Singh and Umran Malik, who were both outstanding in the IPL 2022.

“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,” Shastri added.

“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,” Shastri added.

Moreover, Shastri refrained from picking Venkatesh Iyer and Dinesh Karthik in his playing eleven.

Ravi Shastri’s XI:

KL Rahul, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh/Umran Malik, Harshal Patel.

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