A lot was said and discussed before India’s first test match against South Africa at Newlands, Cape Town. While India were expected to be blown away by the South African pace battery, Virat Kohli’s men hung on and displayed a gutsy performance. Although they lost the opening chapter, India are set bounce back in the 2nd Test, but there are some changes required.
India managed to bowl South Africa out for a mere total of 130 in their 2nd innings and were asked to chase 207 to win the first test match. Up until then, everything was going in India’s favor but then an inspired spell from Vernon Philander saw India being dismissed for 135 and they went on to lose the match by 72 runs.
Following the defeat, there have been several calls made to shake things up ahead of the 2nd test match at SuperSport Park, Centurion. While the easier solution would be to shake things up and bring players from the bench to make an impact, however, Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri need to take a more balanced call so as to turn the series around in India’s favor.
On that note, we take a look at the 3 crucial changes India should make ahead of the 2nd test match against South Africa to have a better chance of winning or dominating the test match.
1). Ajinkya Rahane in place for Rohit Sharma
There is no doubting Rohit Sharma’s pedigree and contribution to India’s limited overs cricket, however, batting at number 6 against a quality pace attack on a green deck is not something he looked comfortable with.
Both of his dismissals saw Rohit play well away from his body and especially in the 2nd innings when India needed someone to bat out the overs he pushed out at a ball far away from his body and chopped it on to his stumps.
That is where Ajinkya Rahane could be the ideal choice to bat at number 6 for India in the 2nd test match vs South Africa. Rahane was India’s star man when the team last visited South Africa back in 2012.
Rahane averaged beyond 70 and looked at ease against the likes of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. Rahane’s grit over Rohit’s flamboyance could be the first step forward for India ahead of the 2nd test match at Centurion.
2). Define Hardik Pandya’s role
If not for Hardik Pandya’s sensational innings of 93, India would have given away an even bigger 1st innings lead and perhaps their defeat would have become even more embarrassing.
Despite playing a superb innings, Hardik Pandya’s batting position was something which was clearly messed up. Hardik was sent at number 7 and was held back when South African bowlers had their tails up.
Hardik is playing as India’s premium all-rounder in the series as he is a fast bowler who can bat beyond most people’s imagination. Indian setup needs to back Pandya and push him up the order to take the South African bowling attack head on and dominate instead of getting bogged down.
There was a similar case with him when it came to bowling as he was given overs when rest of the pace attack looked flat and because he is an aggressive bowler and tends to give away runs but he will also pick you the wickets as he showed by picking up Dean Algar and Aiden Markram at the end of Day 3’s play.
Virat Kohli needs to back Pandya’s natural skills and tell him to play without any pressure if India are to take South Africa’s aggression head on and come out on the top.
3). KL Rahul in place of Shikhar Dhawan
Third and final change that India should look at before the 2nd test match vs South Africa is to reshuffle the opening pair and in particular Shikhar Dhawan. We all saw Dhawan’s struggles against the bouncing balls and in particular Morne Morkel.
Morkel used his short length deliveries wisely as most of the balls rose steeply on Dhawan but also they were aimed at right on top of his off stump which forced Dhawan to play the shots and led to his dismissals in both the innings.
That is where bringing in KL Rahul could be a smart ploy from Team India as he likes to play the hook shot and can negotiate with Morkel’s incoming bouncer better than Dhawan who was not sure whether to play or leave the balls in the 1st test.
These changes should keep India in a better position in the 2nd test match vs South Africa and look to make a comeback in the series with a win or an overly dominant display at SuperSport Park, Centurion.