Current India-South Africa Combined Test XI
South Africa and India have both had a great history of producing some of the best players to have played the game. From South Africa's array of fast bowlers to India's seemingly endless production line of top-class batsmen, there have been many world class players from both countries.
But who is the best among the current crop of players from India and South Africa? Who would get into the current India-South Africa combined Test XI? The players have been selected on the basis of form, availability and their ability to perform across all conditions.
Here is the current India-South Africa combined Test XI:
One of India's most consistent performers, whether at home or abroad, Murali Vijay takes the opening spot. The Tamil Nadu batsman has shown incredible patience and has the ability to find his way through a sticky situation. Despite playing just six Tests in 2017 due to injury, he still scored over 500 runs at an average of 52 with three centuries. His ability to grind the opposition attack makes him the ideal batsman to foil any new ball plans.
Since the retirement of Graeme Smith, South Africa had struggled to find a suitable replacement but over the last two years, Dean Elgar has put his hand up and delivered on a consistent basis. In 2017, he was the first batsman to cross 1,000 Test runs in the calendar year and eventually finished the year as the third leading Test run-getter.
While both Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul were both in great form, Elgar takes the spot due to his ability to score big and score consistently. He scored five centuries and four fifties in 2017 and provides the ideal right-left combination at the start of the innings.
The battle for third spot was a close contest between Cheteshwar Pujara and Hashim Amla. While the latter has played more matches and is more consistent across various conditions, if you look at recent form there can only be one winner.
In the last three years, Pujara has scored 2,323 runs at an average of almost 60 with eight centuries while Amla has scored just under 2,000 runs at an average of just over 40 with five fifties. Pujara was incredible in 2017, recording over 1,000 Test runs in the calendar year for the first time in his career and he will look to continue that in South Africa.
Indian captain Virat Kohli has been in simply sensational form since the start of 2016. He has over 1,000 Test runs in a calendar year for the first time in his career and has also scored an incredible six double centuries, breaking Brian Lara's record of most Test double centuries as captain.
In fact, among players who have played at least 10 Tests since the start of 2016, no player has a better Test average than Kohli who averages 75.80. Those incredible numbers mean that his opposite number, Faf du Plessis, who averages over 55 in Tests during the same period misses out.
AB de Villiers
Although he hasn't played a lot of Test cricket in the recent past, there can be few who can question his place in this side. AB de Villiers brings with him a wealth of experience and the ability to play depending on the situation that the team is in. The holder of the record for fastest ODI fifty, century and 150 also scored two of the slowest knocks in recent memory in Australia and India, showing he can adapt to any situation.
Coming off an injury that has plagued him recently, AB de Villiers will be looking to get back to form against India.
Quinton de Kock
While Wriddhiman Saha has been fantastic behind stumps and has ensured that India have had a smooth transition from MS Dhoni, there can be no doubt about who the wicketkeeper in this side will be. Quinton de Kock has continually proven himself to be an incredibly effective counter-attacking batsman in the lower middle-order, who has battled valiantly with the tail.
Aside from being an excellent batsman, who commands a position higher in the batting order, the southpaw is also brilliant behind the stumps. Acrobatic and always on the move, Quinton features as the wicketkeeper thanks to his ability to consistently score runs and also be a threat behind the stumps.
On face value, picking the world record holder for the fastest to 250 and 300 Test wickets as the sole spinner seems like common sense. But Ashwin's record outside Asia is far from impressive but his recent form and the changes that he has to his bowling has made him impossible to leave out.
Aside from his bowling, he has proven himself to be more than handy with the bat. In the absence of a genuine world-class all-rounder in either side, Ashwin can fill that role as well. So he slots in at No.7 thanks to ability to pick up wickets, provide relief for the pacers and also contribute with the bat.
The only Indian representative in the four-man pace attack is Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The right-arm pacer has been sensational in the last two years across all three formats. His ability to swing the new ball has never been in doubt but he has recently added plenty of variations and extra pace to his arsenal.
His consistency and ability to stay injury-free helps him take the spot ahead of his compatriots Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma.
In the absence of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada has really taken it upon himself to be the leader of the bowling line-up. Only Nathan Lyon picked up more wickets than Rabada in Tests in 2017 and he has simply gone on from strength to strength ever since his debut.
Injuries have plagued the right-arm pacer over the last year and a half but he is finally back to full fitness ahead of the series against India. While the likes of Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami have been impressive, a fully fit Steyn is undoubtedly the better bowler. Over 400 Test wickets are a testament to just how lethal he can be when he is on song.
The fourth seamer slot was a toss up between Ishant Sharma and Morne Morkel in the absence of a genuine world-class all-rounder in either side. Although Ishant has been in good form, Morkel has shown he has an incredible knack of extracting extra bounce and troubling the batsmen irrespective of the conditions. On the verge of 300 Test scalps, the Proteas pacer gets the nod over Ishant to complete a well-rounded bowling attack.