Following India’s defeat in the first Test match against South Africa, the debate is more about team selection than it is about the shortcomings of the players. The decision to drop the vice-captain, Ajinkya Rahane, was taken with a pinch of salt by the classic Test cricket lovers. The decision to consider young Bumrah over the experienced Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav also ruffled some feathers.
After the Indian batting failed the team on both occasions, there are bound to be some changes in the playing XI. Virat Kohli’s record of seldom going in with an unchanged XI also substantiates this claim. So, let us have a look at the three probable changes for the 2nd Test starting on Saturday.
If we are to take Kohli’s word that a player’s current form is the criteria for their selection, Ishant should have featured in the first match itself. The new and improved version of Ishant Sharma has a lot more pace, guile and accuracy than before. His height and length (a little short of the good length) make him naturally suited for South African conditions.
Ishant is the only bowler in the Indian line-up who has already toured South Africa twice. His experience and newfound form can certainly serve the team. However, as Pandya and Bumrah have cemented their spots, it is uncertain who will make way for the lanky pacer.
Rahane’s exclusion in the first match came as a shock to cricket pundits and fans. Despite his current slump in form, Rahane definitely deserves a place in the side. He has the best overseas average among the current lot of Indian batsmen.
By giving Rohit a nod ahead of Rahane, the team management has only increased their own troubles. Now, dropping Rohit after his failure in just one match will be unfair to him. However, Rahane has to be included in the side somehow – in which case Ashwin may have to sacrifice his spot for the vice-captain.
It is all but given that KL Rahul will make the playing XI in the second Test match. It is really unfortunate for a player of his class to miss out while he is in a good nick. Just last year, he equaled the world record of seven Test 50s in consecutive innings.
On the other hand, Shikhar Dhawan has had a record of struggling on pitches that offer seam and pace. Newlands was no different for him – it’s just that the mode of his dismissal changed. He got into a tangle whenever he faced short-pitched deliveries that were directed towards his ribs.
It will not get any easier for the southpaw as the pitch at Centurion is expected to be a bit more bouncy. In that regard, it is almost certain that KL Rahul, who has a more compact technique, will take Dhawan’s place.
A quick analysis of the probable changes to the Indian team for the second Test match against South Africa:
Featured image used for representative purposes only.