Faf contemplates 'toughest' selection yet

Faf du Plessis (Gallo)
Faf du Plessis (Gallo)

Cape Town - Proteas captain Faf du Plessis says choosing the starting team for the first Test against India at Newlands on Saturday has been his toughest selection yet. 

Du Plessis, now South Africa's skipper in all three formats, has led his country in 16 Test matches to date, but never before has he been faced with a selection dilemma quite like this. 

Much of it centres around Dale Steyn, who is back to full fitness and available for the first Test. 

But, with Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander all fit and firing themselves, the only way Steyn could feature is if Du Plessis and the brains trust leave out spinner Keshav Maharaj or an allrounder in one of Andile Phehlukwayo or Chris Morris. 

That is not where the quandary stops. 

With Du Plessis back in the mix after missing the Boxing Day Test against Zimbabwe, the Proteas must also leave out a batsman to accommodate his return. 

Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram will open, while Du Plessis will accompany AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla in a star-studded top order. 

That leaves the No 6 spot open, and depending on how bowling-heavy South Africa choose to be, that might have to go to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock. 

That, of course, would mean that Temba Bavuma misses out. 

At his pre-match press conference at Newlands on Thursday, Du Plessis confirmed that nothing had been finalised yet. 

"As a captain, it's probably the hardest team selection that I've been involved in," he said.

"It's really tough. There are just so many combinations that you can look at. I suppose it is a nice headache to have.

"We're still talking about what is going to be our strongest XI."

The skipper suggested that the Proteas would be flexible in their selection throughout the series, making decisions based on conditions. 

"All angles that you look at picking provide very hard decisions. We will make the decision that we think is the best for Newlands," he said.

"I think with the make-up of our squad now, where we have so many different options, you could almost look at picking a different team for different venues.

"That's our thinking. We've got an idea of what we think will be the best for these conditions and we'll probably change it up when we go up north."

Play on Friday starts at 10:30.

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