'Saha, Umesh, Ishant would be thinking 'what have we done wrong'': Former India opener contradicts Dravid's statement
- The Indian team management has backed the experienced but struggling pair of Pujara and Rahane, especially when Vihari and Shreyas Iyer have been waiting in the wings.
As the Virat Kohli-led unit looks to conquer Cape Town and record the Indian team's first-ever Test series win in South Africa, cricketer-turned-commentator Aakash Chopra has highlighted the selection dilemma involving the visiting side's senior players.
Hanuma Vihari was given a chance after Kohli missed the second game due to an upper back spasm, and the right-handed batter managed to score a crucial 40 in the second innings. But Kohli's return to the team composition would send Vihari back to the bench.
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Underfire seniors Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara hit attacking half-centuries at Johannesburg, showing some kind of form in the second innings. The Indian team management has backed the experienced but struggling pair of Pujara & Rahane, especially when Vihari and Shreyas Iyer have been waiting in the wings.
Chopra underlined the support for the senior batting pair but pointed out that Wriddhiman Saha, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma have also been warming the benches despite being senior members of the camp. Rishabh Pant has been the team's wicketkeeping choice with Mohammed Siraj as the pace quartet's talent.
"Dravid has already said that Vihari & Iyer have to wait because India have got Pujara and Rahane in the starting eleven. Saha, Umesh and Ishant would also be thinking: 'what have we done wrong?'. If one set of seniors is given a long rope, the second set also deserves something," said Chopra on his YouTube channel.
Speaking on the series decider, he said, "The Test series is beautifully poised at 1-1. India hadn't beaten South Africa at Centurion, but they did that in the series opener. South Africa had never defeated India at the Wanderers but the hosts broke that drought too.
Chopra further predicted the Indian middle-order to fare well in the third Test, saying that fans could witness a couple of half-centuries if the Pujara-Kohli-Rahane shines with the willow. The former India opener also backed the team putting up a 300-plus total on the scoreboard to win the contest and seal the three-match rubber.
"The middle-order trio comprising Kohli, Pujara and Rahane can score more than 100 in the first innings. We can also see a couple of half-centuries. Also, it's the 50th Test match for Bumrah at the venue where it all began for him. He can celebrate that in a grand fashion and take six or more wickets in the Test. But his numbers have been a bit low lately," he said.
"Nobody starts as favourites in this Test match. Many players have emerged as top performers on different occasions in this series. India can win the Test but they have to score 300 in either of the innings, preferably the first. If they win the toss, bat first and score 325-350, the match is yours. If the Indian unit doesn't manage to put that score on the board, it will be pushed on the back foot. Rabada, Jansen and Olivier are looking in great form," he further added.