IND v SA: Indian Test team, led by Virat Kohli, departs for South Africa

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The Indian Test cricket team, led by Virat Kohli, departed for South Africa early on Thursday morning to take part in a three-match series starting with a Boxing Day Test from December 26 in Centurion. The three Tests in Centurion, Johannesburg (January 3-7), and Cape Town (January 11-15) will be part of the ICC World Test Championship cycle from 2021 to 2023.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) shared pictures of team members Jasprit Bumrah, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj, and Shardul Thakur from the flight before leaving for Johannesburg. “All buckled up, South Africa bound,” wrote the BCCI on Twitter.

On the tour to South Africa, which was largely in doubt due to the Omicron variant of Covid-19 surging in the Rainbow nation, India will play three Tests and three ODIs as part of the revised schedule. But the four T20Is, part of the original itinerary, have now been deferred and will be played at a later date.

India will be without the services of newly-appointed vice-captain Rohit Sharma, who injured his left hamstring in a practice session on Sunday, thereby ruling him out of the series with Gujarat opener Priyank Panchal drafted as his replacement. India is also without left-arm spin all-rounders Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, and opener Shubman Gill due to injuries.

India squad: Virat Kohli (captain), Priyank Panchal, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Siraj.

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