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More pain awaits Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team in South Africa, hints Mark Boucher

South Africa great Mark Boucher says not picking Ajinkya Rahane, getting the slip positioning wrong and the inability of batsmen to adjust to conditions all led to the Virat Kohli-led Indian cricket team’s Test series loss.

cricket Updated: Jan 20, 2018 11:01 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Somshuvra Laha
Hindustan Times, Johannesburg
India vs South Africa,Ajinkya Rahane,Mark Boucher
Former South Africa wicketkeeper Mark Boucher feels the Indian cricket team’s below-par slip fielding proved to be one of the major factors in its Test series loss against South Africa. (Twitter )

One of the toughest cricketers to have graced the game, former South Africa stumper Mark Boucher is also known to be brutally honest while giving young cricketers – Lungi Ngidi is one of them -- a reality check as Titans coach. One of the finest wicket-keepers, his career ended due to an on-field eye injury. Boucher said in an interview where Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team went wrong and why the third Test starting at the Wanderers on January 24 could be its toughest assignment yet. (INDIA vs SOUTH AFRICA FULL COVERAGE)

Excerpts

Where did it go wrong for Indian cricket team? Was it overconfidence?

I don’t think so. The conditions in Cape Town were tough. India have got some fantastic batsmen, (but) probably batsmen who aren’t used to those sort of conditions. Being a South African cricketer and knowing what our players can do, I always felt comfortable our batsmen can handle seam movement better than the Indians because they are playing that all the time. Our bowlers are taller. Looking at the wicket at SuperSport (for the second Test), when a wicket is up and down, the taller you are the more advantage you got in a bowling attack. There are a couple of Indian bowlers who are tall, but the other guys are quite short. So you can be on the front foot to them. There weren’t too many Indian batsmen hanging on to their front foot to any of our bowlers. That plays a major role. But I think it’s really the batsmen. You have got a few classy batsmen, but they aren’t used to seeing this amount of movement and playing long innings.

(Read | “We want a whitewash”, Kagiso Rabada warns India of Test series rout)

Do you feel some Indian batsmen don’t know how to bat out time?

If we go to India, (if) there is a bit of a difficult session that will affect us. And then the game turns. And then all of a sudden the batsmen start taking advantage. The wickets get flatter. That little bit of movement in the wickets isn’t sustainable. But when they come to South Africa, you are never quite in as a batsman. That’s what they have struggled with. A couple of them faced like 40-50 balls and then they feel ‘I should be in now’. On any other wicket in India you are in and it’s a nice time for them to start dominating. In South Africa, unfortunately, there is always a bit of movement, so it’s about a mental switch-about for the batsmen. They have to say ‘I can’t really dominate as much as I do in India and I could be a little more patient and almost kind of grind the bowling’. I understand. The wickets are seamer-friendly, and we would be stupid not to make seamer-friendly wickets. When we go to India, we don’t expect any red carpet to be laid out. The ball turns square. It’s something different for us to try to adjust and it’s the same for the Indian batsmen when they come to South Africa.

(Read | Mahendra Singh Dhoni defends India’s Test series defeat in South Africa)

India looked below par in catching, especially at slips…

Well, the conditions are different. The ball in the slips comes a lot higher, a lot quicker. The angles the Indians are standing in the slips are completely wrong. A couple of balls, especially to left-handers when the bowlers come around the wicket, the first slip has to be tighter. In India, because the edges come a lot slowly, you have time to move. In South Africa, the edges come quickly and fairly high. Your keeper hasn’t got enough time to move, which means the first slip has to come closer. Once again, the more they play in South African conditions, the more they will learn about these sort of things. Unfortunately, they didn’t learn quickly enough and are 2-0 down.

(Read | Harbhajan Singh offers support to under-fire Virat Kohli, Indian cricket team)

What do you say about Virat Kohli’s batting and captaincy?

Virat Kohli has been fantastic. I know Virat’s very emotional and his passion comes through. I have played with him (at RCB) and I understand that. I fully respect that. He plays at a very high intensity and expects that from the players as well. And I think the players have responded to him very well. Technically, there’s not too much he has done wrong. Maybe a couple of fielding positions here and there but Virat’s still learning. He is very young as a captain and hasn’t played a lot of cricket in South Africa. He has been inspirational, led from the front. He had a great knock at SuperSport. He really tried hard in the second innings in tough conditions in Cape Town. For me, he certainly ticks the boxes as captain and player at the moment. He has used what he had at his disposal very well. He will get better as he plays more in these conditions.

Did Ajinkya Rahane’s exclusion work in South Africa’s favour?

I think so. I think he can play very well. Whether he can play in these conditions, we will be able to find out only when he plays. Players like Ajinkya have done the business. They have put the runs at some stage of their careers.

What can we expect at the Wanderers in the third Test?

A lot greener (pitch) than what you have seen. The one wicket the South Africans will be licking their lips to play on is at the Wanderers. We know it’s definitely going to be the quickest and the one with the most bounce. But India have also won a Test here. So, if they bowl in the right areas, they can also put pressure on the South Africa batsmen. I think with the height of our bowlers, India’s batsmen have to work really hard to get their runs. There will be a few balls flying past their ears as well.

First Published: Jan 20, 2018 08:26 IST