India vs South Africa: ‘Tactical blunder’ - Laxman, Smith left unimpressed by Faf du Plessis after Day 1 of Pune Test
Former greats VVS Laxman and Graeme Smith were left unimpressed by South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis’ handling of pacer Kagiso Rabada on the opening day of second Test against India at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune on Thursday. Mayank Agarwal slammed a second consecutive Test hundred while Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara scored half centuries to guide India to 273/3 at stumps on Day 1. Rabada was pick of the bowlers for the visitors as he ended the day with outstanding figures of 3/48 in 18.1 overs.
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After the end of day’s play, Laxman stated a tactical blunder from du Plessis helped India take a commanding position in the match. The former India cricketer felt that despite being their best bowler, Rabada was underworked and wasn’t used at crucial junctures of the game by South African captain.
“Faf always comes across as a very intelligent and clever cricketer. Since Vizag Test, he has been disappointing as captain,” Laxman told official broadcaster Star Sports during post-day analysis.
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“Your main bowler who did well and took wickets in the first session, you would want to give him the ball straightaway after Lunch. And I think he gets the ball just half an hour before Tea break.
“You are allowing the new batsman to get his eyes in. Once quality players like Pujara, Mayank or Kohli get their eye in, it’s very difficult to get them out,” Laxman added.
Legendary South African skipper Graeme Smith echoed Laxman’s sentiments and said the visitors seemed to be negative on the day and that didn’t do them any favours.
“In general, I thought South Africa were quite negative today. Rabada I think bowled just three overs in Lunch to Tea session. All of us were pulling our hair out that the guy, who is in-form and getting something going, is not bowling enough,” Smith said.
“Their goal has been to control the run-rate. Yes, keep your bowlers like (Vernon) Philander and (Keshav) Maharaj but attack from the other end. You have to get 20 wickets in a Test match,” he added.
Laxman further added: “Ultimately he bowled 18 overs and those 18 overs should have been bowled in situations when the batsmen aren’t set. Even then, he takes wickets of Pujara and Agarwal. This shows there was a big tactical blunder from Faf du Plessis.”