Why Virat Kohli got his game plan wrong in Cape Town Test
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Why Virat Kohli got his game plan wrong in Cape Town Test

Omissions of Ajinkya Rahane, KL Rahul and Umesh Yadav in the lost first Test have raised questions India need to address immediately

cricket Updated: Jan 09, 2018 22:56 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Somshuvra Laha
Cape Town
South Africa vs India,Ajinkya Rahane,KL Rahul
Ajinkya Rahane was dropped from India’s line-up for the opening Test against South Africa in Cape Town, which India lost by 72 runs.(Getty Images)

The biggest and perhaps the only disadvantage of playing a three-Test series is that it doesn’t allow any time to recover from a defeat upfront. Having blown away their best chance to win a Test in South Africa at Newlands, India are now headed to the Highveld region where the ball will bounce and seam more. And if they harbour any chance of squaring the series, India must ring in changes now.

While the bowling may have just passed the test, India’s batting has left a lot to desire. Most positions are manned by the best available batsmen but there needs to be an immediate rethink about Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma. Dhawan doesn’t have the technique to be India’s first choice opener in South Africa. And to be fair, Rohit tried his best to bat according to the situation but it looked imposed on him.

The India team took the day off on Tuesday but Ajinkya Rahane, KL Rahul, Parthiv Patel and Ishant Sharma attended the optional training. Both Rahane and Rahul were seen batting for a long time but it’s unknown whether the team management is in favour of any change.

“Well, we decided to go on current form,” was India captain Virat Kohli’s logic behind picking Rohit ahead of Rahane. “Rohit has scored runs in the last three Tests he has played, and he was batting well, even in the series against Sri Lanka,” he said.

Big runs on flat tracks against depleted teams like Sri Lanka in the subcontinent should not be a criterion for picking that person for a Test in South Africa. Both innings at Newlands showed how Rohit became impatient after spending some time blocking the ball.

And then there was India’s clichéd thinking about fitting in Dhawan because a left-right opening combination ‘always helps’. “Well, the left-hander always helps, that’s what we felt,” said Kohli, going on to compare their situation with South Africa who obviously will play better in home conditions.

“They have got two, including Quinton (de Kock) in their batting order. I mean it’s difficult for the bowlers to set their lines and lengths every time with the strike rotating well. We have to try and create plans that we feel will not let the opposition gain momentum early in the game and that’s the idea behind it,” said Kohli. In both innings though, Dhawan fell to similar rising deliveries.

With the kind of technological support teams have, it’s only a matter of time before a batsman’s weaknesses are worked out. Spotting Dhawan’s are the easiest perhaps.

But with Rahul in the squad as third opener, India should waste no time in picking him for the Centurion Test. Rahul is a genuine opener with solid technique, scoring a century on every tour he has played so far. But the musical chairs involving openers meant he was also asked to try his luck in the middle order. This time though, India definitely need him at the top.

First Published: Jan 09, 2018 19:15 IST