India will look to Ajinkya Rahane to deliver in the series against South Africa © AFP
India will look to Ajinkya Rahane to deliver in the series against South Africa © AFP

After a closely fought One-Day International (ODI) series, India and South Africa lock horns in a four match Test series beginning on Thursday at Mohali. India have picked a formidable squad, with a decent looking bench strength as well. PramodAnanth picks out five Indian players to watch out for during the series. Scorecard: India vs South Africa 2015, 1st Test at Mohali

Ravindra Jadeja: Having notched up 38 wickets in four matches at an average of 10.55 for Saurashtra in the Ranji Trophy 2015-16, selecting RavindraJadeja was a no brainer for the Indian selectors. Jadeja played his last Test against England over a year back and could play a pivotal role in the Test series against South Africa. There are indications that India will go in with three spinners for the first Test at Mohali andJadeja is most likely to get the nod. His batting too has been excellent this season. He has scored three fifties and has often been at a time when his team desperately needed them. He might also keep Stuart Binny out of the playing XI as the first choice all-rounder. READ: Ravindra Jadeja vs Stuart Binny: Which all-rounder should India pick for 1st Test against South Africa?

Ravichandran Ashwin: Ashwin injured himself during the ODI series against South Africa and as a result missed a chunk of the games. Thishurt India as they went on to lose the series 3-2. His form is crucial for the side especially after his excellent outings in the series against Sri Lanka. Ashwin has proved in the past that he could be a real asset in subcontinent conditions and his performance with will determine the outcome of the Test series against South Africa. He is a handy batsman lower down the order and will be entrusted to chip in with a few runs when the team requires. READ: Faf du Plessis admits Ravichandran Ashwin will be major threat to South Africa in Tests

KL Rahul: Rahul has had a mixed beginning to his international career. He has scored a couple of vital hundreds, but has failed miserably otherwise. Although Murali Vijay and ShikharDhawan will be India’s preferred openers, Rahul will look to cash on whatever chance he gets. Once he gets off to a start, he converts them into big scores more often than not. He has an excellent temperament andhas the ability to perform under pressure. READ: KL Rahul has talent, but lacks the consistency needed for Test cricket

Shikhar Dhawan: Dhawan did not have a particularly good ODI series by standards, yet he is one of India’s key players. He played just one match in the series against Sri Lanka, where he scored a century at Galle. His last three scores in Tests read, 173, 134 and 28. Dhawan scores at a rapid pace, which eases the pressure on the batsmen batting with him. His 187 off just 174 deliveries on debut holds testament to this fact. India will want him to continue his form in the longest format and not let a blip in the shorter format affect his form. READ: Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay and other opening pairs scoring 150+ for a team in the same Test innings

Ajinkya Rahane: A lot has been spoken about Rahane’s batting position in the recent past. India did play him at different positions in the Test series against Sri Lanka. Barring the first Test at Galle, he played the remaining two Tests at the No. 3 position. It is likely that he will continue to play in that position, which will mean that CheteshwarPujara will be kept out. With India indicating that they will go in with three spinners, chance for Pujara at No. 3 and Rahane at No. 5 or even No. 6 seems to be ruled out for now. This series will be Rahane’s chance to cement his position at the No. 3 spot for good. READ: Cheteshwar Pujara must play at No. 3 instead of Ajinkya Rahane in India vs South Africa 2015 Test series

(PramodAnanth is a reporter at CricketCountry. He has represented Karnataka table tennis under-15, and is a hardcore supporter of Liverpool FC. His Twitter handle is @pramz)