Centurion: With a few days to go for the much-awaited Boxing Day Test between India and South Africa, both sides would be looking to finalise their playing XI for the match. With no Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja in the mix, and with Ajinkya Rahane woefully out-of-form – the selection for the first Test becomes tricky.

While there is no problem at the top as in-form Mayank Agarwal would get an opportunity to open with KL Rahul – who has recently been made Virat Kohli’s deputy in Tests.

Looks like both Shreyas Iyer, who recently made an impact on his Test debut against New Zealand, would be preferred over Rahane for the first Test. Iyer in all likelihood would bat at No 5.

With scores of 25, 54, 72*, 63 and 13* in three four-day games in Bloemfontein, Hanuma Vihari has got himself ready for the Tests. Vihari was not picked for India’s home Tests versus New Zealand, instead was asked to play for the ‘A’ team which toured South Africa.

With no Jadeja, Vihari is bound to lend stability in the middle with the bat. India would also prefer an extra batter in such conditions and Vihari – who has played 11 of his 12 Tests overseas – would fit in perfectly.

It would be interesting to see how India copes up against the pace-battery of South Africa which is likely to feature Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, and Lungi Ngidi.

India captain Virat Kohli, who was recently axed as the ODI skipper, would be feeling the pressure. Eyes would be on him to see how he leads the side.