The Indian team laid out an uninspiring performance in Centurion, suffering a devastating defeat by an innings and 32 runs against a markedly superior South Africa in the opening Test on Thursday. India were beset with relentless pace and caught off-guard with unpredictable bounce. Their batting performance, in itself, seemed a shadow of its recent past as visitors were bowled out for a paltry 131 in just 34.1 overs after conceding 164-run first innings lead. South Africa have now clinched an unassailable 1-0 lead in the two-match series, dashing India’s hopes of securing a Test series victory in the Rainbow Nation for the first time in 31 years.
The lone opportunity for resurgence now hinges on achieving a 1-1 draw, contingent upon India levelling the series in the upcoming New Year’s Test in Cape Town. India were invited to bat first in Centurion; if not for KL Rahul‘s fighting 101, the side would have struggled to breach the 200-run mark in the first innings. But, while the batters endured a collective failure, Shubman Gill‘s struggles came under the significant spotlight as the young batter has failed to make an impression in the longest format so far.
Since the arrival of Yashasvi Jaiswal to the Indian Test XI, Gill has shifted to no.3 in the order; however, the results haven’t been too dissimilar. In 35 Test innings, Gill has 994 runs at a disappointing average of 31.06; his last 50+ score came in March earlier this year when he smashed 128 against Australia in Ahmedabad. Since then, in 7 innings, his highest score was an unbeaten 29 against the West Indies.
India’s veteran wicketkeeper-batter Dinesh Karthik has insisted that Gill’s position in Tests has now come under scanner, stating there will be pressure on him to make a mark in the final Test, which starts January 3.
“Shubman Gill is the big question mark here. He has not lived up to the expectations that people have. I think even he would be aware that if you are going to average mid-30s or early-30s after having played 20 Tests, then you would consider yourself to be a bit lucky to be around. His place will definitely be under the scanner if he doesn’t have a great Test match in the next one,” Karthik told Cricbuzz.
Karthik also believed India are missing Sarfaraz Khan, who had been impressive in the domestic red-ball circuit for many years but is yet to make an appearance for the Test team.
“The only middle-order name that we are missing out on is Sarfaraz Khan. I have no doubt that he will make it to the squad much sooner than he thinks right now. Other than that, you do not have any other names doing the round in the middle order right now. Rajat Patidar is a very, very strong name that I think they will be looking at very soon,” said the wicketkeeper-batter.