India’s dreams of recording their first ever Test series win in South Africa went up in smoke with an innings defeat in Centurion. India were blown away for 131 runs with just two of their batters scoring in double digits. One of them was Virat Kohli, who scored 76 off 82 and thus made the bulk of India’s runs and India lost by an innings 32 runs inside three days. India’s batting, particularly their top three, failed to deliver in the match. The visitors had lost their first three wickets inside 12 overs in the first innings and inside 14 overs in the second.
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar has said that India’s failures can be explained by the fact that they didn’t play any tour matches before the series. The players only played an intra-squad match going into the series and Gavaskar said that they had to face a local side instead.
“The reasons are straightforward – you didn’t play any matches here. If you straightaway play Test matches, it doesn’t work out. Yes, you sent the India A team. The India A team should actually come before the tour,” he said on Star Sports. An India A squad led by KS Bharat is currently in the country facing South Africa A in two Tests. The series has been happening almost simultaneously with the Test series.
‘Practice matches necessary for young players’
Gavaskar said that while workload may be a reason for not playing tour matches, India had to make sure that at least their younger players play in the country before embarking on a Test series.
“You need to play practice matches after coming here. Intra-squad is a joke because would your fast bowlers bowl extremely fast to your batters, would they bowl bouncers, as they would be scared about injuring their batters,” he said.
“So it’s better to play against the South Africa A team or play two or three matches against a county or a state. The schedule that is made these days, where you play only Test matches with a gap of seven days in between – remove the ‘workload’ word from Indian cricket’s dictionary.”
Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer and Prasidh Krishna had never played a Test match in South Africa before. Gavaskar said that while the senior players could arrive and play without a tour game behind them, the youngsters should’ve been asked to play a domestic side before the series. “Nothing happens to senior cricketers. They will play the second, third and fourth match even if they fail. Practice matches are necessary for the young players. If you want, you can ask your senior players to come at ease, they can come a day before the Test match, but you need to arrange practice matches for the young players,” he said.