The majority of the debate in the wake of India’s 72-run defeat in the 1st test match against South Africa in Newlands will circle around India’s playing XI. It would be fair to say that India made some unusual choices in the players that were selected. Jasprit Bumrah was given his test debut over experienced players like Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav. While Ajinkya Rahane, who has been India’s best batsman in overseas conditions was left out in place of in-form Rohit Sharma.
The other question that Virat Kohli has to answer before the toss on Saturday is what combination will choose to use now that he has seen his players in these foreign conditions. Whether India goes with 6 specialist batsmen and 4 specialist bowlers or whether he chooses to go with just 5 specialist batsmen and one all-rounder. All these questions will be resolved as the hour’s tick by to the first ball of the 2nd test match.
Here we try and predict the Indian players who will take the field come Saturday at Centurion.
Even though Vijay scored less runs than Dhawan in the 1st test match, he looked far more comfortable with the pace and swing than the Sunrisers batsman. He has been India’s top batsman in overseas conditions for the past few months and if India are to put a fight in the 2nd test match, they will need Vijay to give them a firm base to build their innings on.
The first casualty from the 1st test match could be Shikhar Dhawan who visibly looked uncomfortable with the pace and the bounce that the South African bowlers were able to generate. The Delhi opener will most likely give way to KL Rahul, who was brilliant in 2017. The former RCB opener should enjoy the ball coming on to the bat and he definitely has the temperament to score big runs and that too at a quick rate.
The was some criticism that was levied at Cheteshwar Pujara after the first test match. The solid middle-order batsman has struggled to build big innings in conditions outside Asia. He is by far India’s best test batsman and if the team is going to do well, they need their main players to stand up and score some big runs.
Kohli made his much-awaited return to the Indian team but couldn’t deliver at the levels that have come to be expected of the Indian captain. After failing in the 1st innings, the Delhi batsman was going pretty well in the second innings before Philander trapped him plumb in front of the wickets. It will be practically impossible for team India to get anything from this series without their leader performing. He will be looking to find the form that made him so dangerous in 2017.
This might be the final chance Rohit has of playing a test match for India in foreign conditions.after failing in both the innings of the Newlands test.However, the Mumbai Indians skipper was in terrific form against Sri Lanka, which is why he definitely deserves one more chance in the middle order, before the team management decides to go with the more natural choice of Ajinkya Rahane.
The 32-year-old pint-sized wicketkeeper-batsman, Parthiv Patel, has remained absent from Team India’s playing XIs. And although Wriddhiman Saha has impressed with his wicket-keeping, he lacks the same skills in the batting bit. On the other hand, Parthiv Patel, who is known to be a better batter, has also got years of experience over Saha. Parthiv is also known to be a learned back-foot player, as compared to Saha.
The Gujarat cricketer last played against England when Saha was injured. He scored 195 runs in three Test matches. A senior BCCI official told PTI on Friday, “The team management understands that they need to shore up the batting. Apart from his 878 Test runs in 23 Tests, his first-class average is phenomenal. He has more than 10,000 runs with 26 centuries. The team management couldn’t have possibly avoided that.“
The only Indian player who troubled the South African team somewhat was all-rounder Hardik Pandya. The sensational Mumbai Indians player scored a brilliant 93 in the first innings to reduce the deficit to the bare minimum. Along with that crucial knock, Pandya also took 3 wickets in the match including the important wickets of both the South African openers in the final overs of Day 2. He will definitely continue in the starting XI as India looks to find the perfect the role for his abilities.
Bhuvneshwar was the highest wicket-taker for India in the 1st test match and will again be leading the bowling unit when the team takes the field in Centurion. Another factor that works brilliantly for Bhuvneshwar is his ability to score some runs lower down the order to extend the team’s total a little further.
The first innings proved to be a bit difficult for Mohammed Shami, as he struggled to find his pace and rhythm. But the 27-year-old came roaring back in the second innings and tormented the South African batsmen on Day 4 morning. Now that he has found some sort of form, the team management will definitely continue with him for the 2nd test match.
Bumrah couldn’t have asked for a better 1st test wicket than AB de Villiers. The Mumbai Indians bowler managed to get the former South African captain in the 2nd innings as well along with 2 more wickets. Kohli might be inclined to go for a more experienced bowler in the shape of Ishant or Umesh but one feels that Bumrah has done enough to justify his place in the 2nd test match.