Shubman Gill has been given a maiden Test call-up and Rohit Sharma is set to open in the upcoming home series against South Africa after KL Rahul was dropped.

Chief selector MSK Prasad revealed that Rohit will move to the top of the order for the three Tests against the Proteas, with the first match getting under way at Visakhapatnam on October 2.

Rahul misses out after failing to make a half-century in the recent 2-0 whitewash of West Indies in the Caribbean.

Gill has been included in a 15-man party just four days after the opener turned 20, while fellow batsman Mayank Agarwal retains his place.

Prasad said of limited-overs opener Rohit being included: "Yes, we are definitely looking at him [as an opener], and we want to give him an opportunity,

"He is keen, and all of us in the selection committee are keen. We want to push him, and give him some opportunities up the order, and see where he stands, and then we will take a call.

"He has been opening in white-ball cricket for more than a decade [since 2013]. We feel he has the ability to bat up the order, we have seen that in white-ball cricket, and if he can do that in red-ball cricket, then nothing like it.

"We have a lot of practice matches coming up, which will be a boost to this side."

 

India squad for South Africa Test series: Virat Kohli (captain), Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Shubman Gill.

South Africa expect Trevor Nyakane to be fit for their Rugby World Cup opener despite a knee injury sustained against Japan on Friday.

Prop Nyakane was sent on for Frans Malherbe in the second half of the 41-7 victory in Kumagaya but was forced off just 14 minutes later.

However, the 30-year-old did not sustain a serious injury and is expected to be available when the Springboks begin their World Cup campaign against reigning champions New Zealand on September 21.

"The tighthead prop sprained a knee during the 41-7 victory over Japan in Kumagaya on Friday and was limited to a 14-minute appearance," read a statement from the Springboks.

"Nyakane made a scheduled return to South Africa on Saturday to be with his wife for the birth of their child this week. He will arrive back in Japan on Friday."

Following their match with the All Blacks, Rugby Championship winners South Africa take on Namibia, Italy and Canada in their other Pool B fixtures.

Chester Williams, a key figure in South Africa's 1995 Rugby World Cup triumph, has died at the age of 49.

Williams was considered one of the greatest wings in Springbok history. He passed away in Cape Town on Friday following a heart attack, national governing body SA Rugby said.

Nicknamed the Black Pearl, Williams scored four tries in South Africa's quarter-final win against Western Samoa on the road to glory at their home World Cup.

Williams was a pioneer - one of the few black players to star for South Africa in that era - and he played 27 Tests, scoring 14 tries for the Springboks.

Mark Alexander, president of SA Rugby, said in a statement: "The news of Chester’s passing is devastating and hard to believe, as he was still young and seemingly in good health.

"Chester was a true pioneer in South African rugby and his performances at the World Cup in 1995, as a snapshot of his Springbok career, will forever be etched in the hearts and minds of our rugby public.

"As a member of the Springbok class of 1995, Chester was not only well known in the rugby fraternity, but he was a much-loved South African whose influence stretched wider than just the rugby world.

"He was passionate about rugby and South Africa and as coach, at various levels, selflessly gave back to the game after he hung up his boots. He played with courage and was a beacon of light in his community and in the broader South African context.

"Chester Williams had so much more to give. Our thoughts and condolences are with his wife, Maria, his children, family and friends during this very sad time."

Williams, whose honours included being named SA Rugby Player of the Year in 1994, turned his hand to coaching after retirement, leading teams including the national teams of Uganda and Tunisia.

The news of Williams' death comes two months after fellow wing and 1995 World Cup hero James Small died, with their team-mates Ruben Kruger and Joost van der Westhuizen having already passed away.

Makazole Mapimpi scored a hat-trick as South Africa rounded off their Rugby World Cup preparations with a resounding 41-7 win over Japan in Kumagaya on Friday.

Japan stunned the Springboks at the World Cup in England four years ago but there was no chance of a repeat as Rassie Erasmus' side surged to a commanding victory that maintained their unbeaten record in 2019.

Cheslin Kolbe opened the scoring in the corner before Mapimpi got off the mark following some excellent work from Willie le Roux, who plucked down a high ball and shook off his marker to send the wing through.

Despite Japan enjoying plenty of possession, the Springboks took a 22-0 lead into half-time when Handre Pollard added a penalty to a routine second from Mapimpi.

Mapimpi showed incredible pace when he motored away with Pieter-Steph du Toit's pass to complete his hat-trick, but Kotaro Matsushima – born in Pretoria – pulled one back to the delight of the home support.

South Africa finished the match a man light due to Francois Louw being sent to the sin bin following repeated team infringements, but Kolbe charged home from inside his own 22 and Herschel Jantjies scored his fourth try in as many Tests to send the Rugby Championship winners into the World Cup full of confidence.

The South African Football Association (SAFA) has confirmed a planned friendly with Madagascar is off after the opposition pulled out.

Madagascar were hastily lined up for Saturday's game at Orlando Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg after Zambia pulled out of the scheduled fixture for safety reasons.

But the Madagascar Football Association (MFA) announced on Thursday they are also withdrawing from the game.

"After having consulted with the various national institutions of Madagascar, particularly concerning the security of the team of Madagascar and its Malagasy nationals in South Africa, it was found essential and judicious to decline the invitation," a statement read.

"The Madagascar Football Association apologises to the South African Football Federation for their efforts to organize this match, and also to the Malagasy fans who were looking forward to the match."

The decision to call off the game comes amid civil unrest in Johannesburg and Pretoria, with both cities having been the scene of looting and violence targeting foreigners.

 

Rassie Erasmus is adamant South Africa will not underestimate Japan again on Friday after naming arguably his strongest XV for the Springboks' final Rugby World Cup warm-up match.

Captain Siya Kolisi, fit again following a knee injury, is the only man included in the starting line-up who did not feature in the 16-16 Rugby Championship draw with New Zealand in July.

An experimental team beat Argentina 24-18 in the Springboks' most recent game but Erasmus has rolled out his big guns in South Africa's final fixture before they face the All Blacks again in their World Cup opener.

Pieter-Steph du Toit will make his 50th Test appearance in the back row alongside Kolisi, with Erasmus mindful about taking World Cup hosts Japan seriously after they pulled off a stunning 34-32 win when the two teams last met four years ago.

"I hope this selection will send a strong message that we have the utmost respect for Japan," Erasmus told reporters.

"Perhaps we made the mistake of complacency against them in the past but we've been hammering the message all week that we should never do that again against Japan.

"They're a smart team of great athletes, playing at home, having won a title in the past month and now desperate to prove something. This Test is as big a challenge as any we've had this season.

"They made a movie about the last time they played us - it's our job to make sure there's no sequel."


South Africa: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Steven Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, RG Snyman, Francois Louw, Herschel Jantjies, Frans Steyn, Jesse Kriel.

South Africa wing Aphiwe Dyantyi is facing a long-term suspension after being formally charged with a doping violation.

Dyantyi, who last week denied taking any prohibited substances, was provisionally banned after returning an adverse finding in a test at a Springboks training on July 2 and requested for his B-sample to be tested.

The South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) said on Friday the B-sample indicated the presence of the same three banned anabolic steroids and metabolites: metandienone, methyltestosterone and LGD-4033.

The 25-year-old has the right to contest the charge in front of an independent disciplinary panel.

If found to have breached anti-doping regulations, the 2018 World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year could receive a four-year ban.

Speaking last week, Dyantyi maintained his innocence after being made aware of the initial test results.

"I want to deny ever taking any prohibited substance, intentionally or negligently, to enhance my performance on the field. I believe in hard work and fair play," he said in a statement.

"I have never cheated and never will. The presence of this prohibited substance in my body has come as a massive shock to me and together with my management team and experts appointed by them, we are doing everything we can to get to the source of this and to prove my innocence."

Dyantyi has played 13 Tests for South Africa since making his debut against England at Ellis Park in June 2018 but was not included in the Rugby World Cup squad.

Hardik Pandya has returned to India's Twenty20 squad for the three-match series against South Africa, while MS Dhoni was left out again.

All-rounder Hardik was rested for the tour to the West Indies but was brought back into the fold at the expense of seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

His selection is the only change to the T20 squad that whitewashed the Windies 3-0, meaning there is no space for former captain Dhoni.

With Jasprit Bumrah also omitted, India will host South Africa with an inexperienced pace attack of Khaleel Ahmed, Deepak Chahar and Navdeep Saini.

India will look to see out another series victory over the Windies when the second Test in Kingston commences on Friday, before playing the first of three T20 matches against South Africa on September 15 in Dharamsala.

 

India squad: Virat Kohli(c), Rohit Sharma (vc), KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Krunal Pandya, Washington Sundar, Rahul Chahar, Khaleel Ahmed, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini.

Eben Etzebeth was included in South Africa's Rugby World Cup squad on Monday after denying physical or racial abuse in an alleged incident in Langebaan.

The Springbok group was cut from 32 players to 31 for the upcoming finals and the squad reveal had threatened to be marred by social media allegations of an incident involving the lock.

However, responding to the reports, Etzebeth provided a categorical denial - and the South African Rugby United (SARU) insisted it will stand by its man unless further informed by authorities.

"It is completely untrue and unfounded to claim that I physically or racially abused anyone in Langebaan as has been reported on social media," he posted on Facebook. "Multiple witnesses can corroborate that.

"I am and will always strive to be a true ambassador to this beautiful rainbow nation and the sport that I love."

A SARU statement read: "The South African Rugby Union is a law-abiding member of South African society and has no tolerance of acts of violence or racial abuse.

"We will co-operate with the authorities in any way necessary. Our Rugby World Cup squad will have no place for anyone who transgresses those principles.

"But we also trust our people to act responsibly and tell the truth. We have spoken to Eben and he categorically denies any physical or racial abuse on his part as has been alleged in social media.

"He is a member of the Springbok squad and will remain so unless police authorities require our reconsideration."

Erasmus said: "I am very happy with the squad we have been able to select. We have been developing this squad since the start of last season and, in the 31, we have a good balance of established experience and some exciting youth.

"We set out with the goal of growing the depth of the squad and I am confident that any of this 31 can step into a play-off match at the Rugby World Cup and deliver an outstanding performance."

Rugby Championship winners South Africa begin their World Cup campaign against defending champions New Zealand in Pool B on September 21.

 

South Africa squad in full:

Forwards: Schalk Brits, Lood de Jager, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Siya Kolisi, Francois Louw, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Franco Mostert, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Kwagga Smith, RG Snyman, Duane Vermeulen.

Backs: Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Faf de Klerk, Warrick Gelant, Elton Jantjies, Herschel Jantjies, Cheslin Kolbe, Jesse Kriel, Willie le Roux, Makazole Mapimpi, S'bu Nkosi, Handre Pollard, Cobus Reinach, Frans Steyn.

David Warner likened Jofra Archer to South Africa great Dale Steyn after he took 6-45 in the third Ashes Test at Headingley, but the England newcomer is not surprised by his instant impact in the longest format.

In just his second five-day match, Archer ripped through Australia on a truncated first day in Leeds, taking five of the eight wickets to fall in the final session, including that of Warner (61) as the tourists were dismissed for 179 having been 136-2.

Archer, who was born in Barbados but qualified to play for England in March, showed no sign of being overawed by international cricket when he starred in the World Cup triumph earlier this year and the Test stage does not appear too grand for the 24-year-old either.

He returned match figures of 5-91 in his Test debut at Lord's - when his vicious 92.4mph struck Steve Smith on the neck and led to him missing the match at Headingley due to concussion - but his ability to get wickets on a more pedestrian track at Leeds was even more impressive.

"It's a bit like how Dale Steyn with the new ball tried to just use the conditions and then sort of ramp it up when they need to. That was world-class bowling at its best," Warner said of Archer.

It was the wicket of Warner - one of four Australian batsmen to nick behind - that turned a game that had been disrupted by rain and bad light after Joe Root had won the toss.

Archer got nowhere near the 96.1mph he clocked at Leeds and the threat of the bouncer was only minimal, but the conscious reduction of pace proved productive.

"This wasn't a short-ball wicket, it wasn't as hard as Lord's," Archer said. 

"So it's just get it on the full line and length and it got results today. I don't need to run in and bowl 90mph every spell to get wickets. It's shown today."

On the comparisons with Steyn, Archer added: "It's really flattering. Actually, Dale tweeted a few years ago when I first started for Sussex, it's nice that someone who has played so many Tests and taken so many wickets would even think about me."

Whereas others may be taken aback by Archer's swift adaptation to Test cricket, the man himself thinks he is just doing what he always has.

Asked whether he had been surprised by his impact, he replied: "No. It's the same thing. It's nice to play the Ashes in England at grounds you played at already and are familiar with.

"Sussex has the same hill so to me it doesn't feel like I've done anything different."

Sbu Nkosi produced two flashes of brilliance as South Africa ground out a 24-18 victory over Argentina at Loftus Versfeld.

The Sharks wing dashed over for a pair of silky tries that were out of keeping with the quality in the rest of the contest, with only a late disallowed score denying Argentina a famous win.

South Africa, who start their Rugby World Cup campaign against holders New Zealand on September 21, caused a surprise by winning the recent Rugby Championship ahead of the All Blacks, Australia and Saturday's opponents.

This was their final home Test before going for global glory in Japan, and it was a tough contest, with coach Rassie Erasmus seeing his side given plenty of trouble by the Pumas.

His Boks had won 46-13 in Salta when they travelled to Argentina for last weekend's Rugby Championship finale, but this never looked like being a similarly one-sided match.

Led by hooker Schalk Brits, who at 38 years and three months became South Africa's oldest first-time captain, South Africa were often sluggish 

Elton Jantjies booted South Africa ahead in the 18th minute but Argentina responded in kind through Joaquin Diaz Bonilla.

Nkosi skipped in down the right for his first try, with a stylish shuffle of his feet before darting for the line. Jantjies rattled the post with the conversion attempt.

Argentina hit back right at the end of the half with an interception try, Guido Petti seizing on a loose pass from Cobus Reinach to run in from halfway. Diaz Bonilla added the extras and the Pumas held a 10-8 half-time lead.

Nkosi produced a sparkling run and dived over for his second try, taking the aerial route to avoid a last-ditch Pumas tackle.

But there was plenty of mileage left in the contest, with Diaz Bonilla and Jantjies exchanging penalties before Pablo Matera pounced for a try from a line-out by the Boks line.

Jantjies kicked another penalty to nudge the hosts 21-18 in front yet Argentina looked to have won it when Lucas Mensa charged through to dot down late on.

An earlier obstruction on Vincent Koch resulted in the try being disallowed, to South Africa's relief, and Jantjies added the resulting penalty to secure a narrow win.

Schalk Brits described the chance to captain South Africa for the first time at the age of 38 as a "dream come true" and expressed his gratitude for the opportunity.

Brits has not started for the Springboks since 2008 and has just 12 caps to his name, but he will lead the side out against Argentina this weekend.

The Bulls hooker becomes his country's oldest first-time skipper and is relishing the opportunity.

Brits says he will rely on regular captain Siya Kolisi for advice and hopes he can justify the "unbelievable honour" of being involved.

"To lead my country is one dream that has come true for me and it's going to be amazing to lead out this group of players representing our country and the Springboks," he told reporters on Friday.

"For me, being part of the Springboks is such a huge honour. I've been involved with the Springboks since 2008 and only played 12 Test matches, but every time I get selected, or even performing a supporting role, it's an unbelievable honour.

"Siya is still our captain and I am going to rely heavily on him and the other leaders in our team.

"From my perspective, we just want a complete team performance, and if we can get that right then I think we will be happy as a team."

Happy just to be back in the side, having last year returned from a lengthy spell at Saracens, Brits added: "Being back in the country and then part of the squad is unbelievable.

"I am really grateful, every day, for having a second chance."

Schalk Brits will become the second oldest captain in Springbok history when he leads South Africa against Argentina on Saturday.

Hooker Brits, at 38 years and three months, has been chosen to lead the Boks in the Test at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, as he makes his first start for the national team in over 10 years.

Victor Matfield was almost three months older than Brits when he skippered the Springboks in the 2015 Rugby World Cup third-place match, but Brits becomes the oldest man to be a first-time captain of the team.

With World Cup places at stake, coach Rassie Erasmus has selected a strong yet experimental side, challenging some of his players to prove they deserve a seat on the plane to Japan.

Erasmus said it was "make or break" for a number of the players, as he prepares to finalise his tournament squad.

The pack shows changes following the Boks' Rugby Championship triumph, with flanker Siya Kolisi, number eight Marcell Coetzee and prop Thomas du Toit named in the starting XV, with Wilco Louw - another prop - and back-rower Marco van Staden on the bench.

Kolisi, coming back from a knee injury, is the team's regular captain but may only last for part of the first half as Erasmus eases him back into the team.

"I've asked Siya to empty his tank and go as hard for as long as he can," Erasmus said.

"I've told him he might even come off in the first half. He has played less than 50 minutes of Currie Cup rugby in the last 12 weeks but I needed him to have a taste of Test rugby again before we leave for Japan."

Cobus Reinach gets a chance to impress at scrum-half, with fly-half Elton Jantjies primed to take over the captaincy if - as seems likely - South Africa replace Brits with the uncapped Scarra Ntubeni during the match.

Herschel Jantjies is ruled out after taking a blow to the head in training that is not expected to affect his World Cup chances.

Erasmus urged his players to raise their level for what is their last match before heading to Japan.

He said: "No matter what has happened before this weekend, the momentum we will go to the World Cup with will depend on what happens on Saturday.

"Some of these players will know they are on the plane but for others it is make or break – and even if they don't make the plane there will be six standby roles to be identified."

 

South Africa team to play Argentina: Warrick Gelant, Sbu Nkosi, Jesse Kriel, Andre Esterhuizen, Dillyn Leyds, Elton Jantjies, Cobus Reinach; Thomas du Toit, Schalk Brits, Vincent Koch, RG Snyman, Lood de Jager, Siya Kolisi, Rynhardt Elstadt, Marcell Coetzee.

Replacements: Scarra Ntubeni, Lizo Gqoboka, Wilco Louw, Marvin Orie, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith, Faf de Klerk, Frans Steyn.

Swys de Bruin has quit as South Africa attack consultant less than six weeks before the start of the Rugby World Cup.

De Bruin stepped down from his role for "personal and medical reasons" after a win over Argentina last weekend, which sealed a first Rugby Championship triumph for a decade.

South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus said: "Swys made a great contribution to the squad in his time with us and I'd like to thank him on behalf of his fellow management and the players he has worked with in the past 12 months.

"He brought a fresh perspective to one facet of the game and he'll be hard to replace.

"I'd also like to thank the Lions for releasing him to us and SA Rugby for supporting his appointment."

Erasmus will weigh up his options before appointing a short-term replacement for De Bruin.

"This was not something we were expecting but our planning has been thorough and it's something we can manage," he added.

South Africa face the Pumas again at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, five weeks before taking on defending champions New Zealand in a blockbuster World Cup clash.

Uncapped trio Anrich Nortje, Senuran Muthusamy and Rudi Second have been included in South Africa's Test squad for the tour of India, while Quinton de Kock will captain the Twenty20 side.

Paceman Nortje, all-rounder Muthusamy and wicketkeeper-batsman Second were among the 15 players selected for a three-match series in October.

There are also three new faces in the squad for three contests in the shortest format, with batsman Temba Bavuma, spinning all-rounder Bjorn Fortuin and Nortje getting the nod.

Aiden Markram, Theunis de Bruyn and Lungi Ngidi were omitted from the T20 squad as they will be warming up for the Tests by playing in a four-day match against India A.

Faf du Plessis will continue to skipper the Test side, but he will not feature in the T20 series, so De Kock leads the side and Rassie van der Dussen will be his vice-captain.

Bavuma will be Du Plessis' deputy in the Test series, with Enoch Nkwe installed as interim team director following head coach Ottis Gibson's sacking after a poor Cricket World Cup for the Proteas.

Hashim Amla last week retired from international cricket after Dale Steyn called time on his Test career.

 

Test match squad: Faf du Plessis (captain) Temba Bavuma, Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock, Dean Elgar, Zubayr Hamza, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Senuran Muthusamy, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Vernon Philander, Dane Piedt, Kagiso Rabada, Rudi Second (VKB Knights).

  T20 squad: Quinton de Kock (captain), Rassie van der Dussen, Temba Bavuma, Junior Dala, Bjorn Fortuin, Beuran Hendricks, Reeza Hendricks, David Miller, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Jon-Jon Smuts.

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