The selectors have made it clear that there is no place for Rohit in the middle-order and he will be given a chance to open considering the constant failures by KL Rahul at the top of the order and the fact that Shikhar Dhawan is no longer in contention.
While Rohit is leading the team, it also features Mayank Agarwal, who is India's permanent Test opener as of now. The practice contest gives Rohit a chance to acclimatise himself to batting with Agarwal ahead of the first Test which begins on October 2.
Rohit was part of the Test squad in West Indies but did not play in the matches as Hanuma Vihari was preferred and ended up being the man of the series. With Ajinkya Rahane also returning to form with a hundred in the Caribbean, Rohit's chances of a middle-order berth have disappeared for now.
Rohit, who averages under 40 with three hundreds in 27 Tests, will get a chance to prove some of his worth as the three-day fixture will feature a strong South African bowling attack comprising Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander and Lungi Ngidi.
The decision to push Rohit to open the innings is somewhat inspired by the success of Virender Sehwag, who transformed himself from a destructive lower-order hitter to a match-winning opener in Tests.
Apart from Rohit, the other domestic openers waiting in the wings include Shubman Gill, Abhimanyu Easwaran and Priyank Panchal.
Meanwhile, the three-day game will also give Umesh Yadav some much-needed match practice as he has been drafted into the squad in place of the injured Jasprit Bumrah.
Karun Nair, who has a Test triple hundred to his name, will also look to put his name back in the reckoning.
Board President's XI: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Mayank Agarwal, Priyank Panchal, AR Easwaran, Karun Nair, Siddhesh Lad, KS Bharat (wicket-keeper), Jalaj Saxena, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, Avesh Khan, Ishan Porel, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (c), Temba Bavuma (vc), 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.
--Renin Wilben Albert