Former India cricketer Mohinder Amarnath, who famously won the man-of-the-match in the 1983 World Cup Final, has suggested that the Indian team management needs to get a bit more practical in its thinking and take more sensible decisions if they are to harbour any hopes of turning around their fortunes in South Africa, especially in the 3rd and final Test taking place today (24 January) at Wanderers in Johannesburg.
Writing in his column in the Times of India, the former all-rounder recommended a few changes and also said that captain Virat Kohli will do well to pay heed to his advice. Citing Indian batsmen’s poor footwork as the primary reason for their downfall in the Rainbow nation, Amarnath wrote that the players need to move their feet a lot quicker on the tracks that are on offer in South Africa, which is a lot different from what they are used to doing on flat sub-continental wickets.
Amarnath further stated that Virat Kohli’s ‘horses for courses’ policy that has led to him fielding a different side in each of his 34 Tests as captain is not helping the Indian team and is only adding to their woes. The former Delhi player went on to add that India need to look no further than the iconic 2001 Eden Gardens Test against Australia where the decision to promote VVS Laxman up the order, deemed out of the box at that time, single-handedly changed India’s fortunes and turned the tide in their favour.
“The batsmen are not handling the South Africa fast bowlers with the best of techniques at least where their footwork is concerned. When playing on a faster track, you need to move early, but most of the batsmen are moving the same way they would on a sub-continent track. It works at home but on faster tracks you have to move early and get into position: you should be on the move when playing against fast bowlers on faster tracks,” Amarnath wrote in his column for the paper.
“There has been too much chopping and changing, and while that may work at home, it’s different when playing abroad on a different kind of soil and attack. They have to do something different to compete with South Africa. Perhaps a slight change in the batting order might work. We all remember the famous India-Australia Test at Kolkata when Laxman came in at No. 3 in the second innings, and look what happened! All it took was one change and India made a dramatic turnaround in the match. It just might work again, who knows?”
Further elaborating on his point, Amarnath also illustrated the changes that he would like to see in the Indian eleven for the final match of the series in Johannesburg. “I would like to see Shikhar Dhawan back in the side, opening with Murali, with KL Rahul or Rohit Sharma (who, despite having a rough time of it, may be kept in the XI) at No. 3, and Pujara or Rahane at Nos. 5/6. Pujara is a fantastic player and but at the moment I think the player at the crucial No. 3 spot should be scoring briskly and playing his shots from the beginning,” Amarnath concluded.