A fit-again Virat Kohli will be back for the third Test between India and South Africa starting Tuesday in Cape Town, but the India captain informed that pacer Mohammed Siraj will miss the decider after failing to recover entirely from the injury he picked up during the previous game.
Kohli, who was absent from the second clash, confirmed he will return for the Newlands Test to give India a massive boost. The champion batter missed the second match of the series at the Wanderers in Johannesburg because of an upper back spasm, but was seen hitting the nets with the rest of the team. Siraj, on the other hand, pulled his hamstring while bowling during the 1st innings of the Johannesburg Test, and although the 27-year-old did return to bowl in both innings, he appeared far from being 100 percent.
"I am absolutely fit but Siraj is recovering from the niggle he had in the last game and at present I do not think he is match-ready to take the field in the third Test. You cannot risk a guy who is not a 110 percent as a fast bowler because we know how important that niggle opening up and extending into an injury could be for the team. So Siraj is not up to the mark," Kohli said on the eve of the deciding Test.
India are yet to name a replacement for the seamer. India have Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav in their set-up, and both promise to be equally handy at the Newlands track with the red ball. Ishant and Umesh have the experience of over 100 and 50 Tests respectively and it is unlikely that India would tamper with their four-pacers policy for the Newlands decider.
"We are yet to sit down - myself and the head coach, the vice-captain - to decide what we want to do about the replacement. And I say that because of out bench strength. It is difficult for us to figure out who will play because everyone is as the top of their game - bowling well and batting well," said Kohli.
"These things become a point of discussion, contention, and you have to heave a healthy discussion around a decision like that, and make sure everyone agrees and feels balanced about it. But I would prefer we rather be in a position where we are yet to decided who is going to play rather than having to figure out other options."
The Indian team will look to bounce back in the third and final Test of the series. India kicked off the South Africa tour on a perfect note, crushing the hosts by 113 runs in the series-opener at Centurion before the Proteas won the second game to level the three-match series.