Centurion [South Africa], December 28 (ANI): Former Indian coach and all-rounder Ravi Shastri, who is currently on commentary for the ongoing red-ball series against South Africa, hit out at skipper Rohit Sharma’s bizarre on-field tactics after the resumption of play post lunch at Centurion on Wednesday.
After India, powered by KL Rahul’s 101, were bowled out for 245, South Africa went to lunch at 49 for the loss of just one wicket in the form of opener Aiden Markram.
However, much to the surprise of Shastri and others in the commentary panel, Rohit started the proceedings in the second session with debutant pacer Prasidh Krishna and bowling all-rounder Shardul Thakur instead of frontline opening bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj.
Opener Dean Elgar, who is featuring in his swansong series, made the most of this as he found the fence at will and ended up racing to his 14th Test century.
During the commentary, Shastri said in any pecking order, Shardul and Krishna would be the last to start the proceedings after lunch and during his tenure as coach, India would go with their best two bowlers at the start of a session.
“On any pecking order, these two (Shardul and Prasidh) would have been the last to start the proceedings (after lunch),” said Shastri on commentary.
“That is something that we have had a discussion multiple times when I was the coach. And more often than not we decided to go with the best two bowlers at the start of the session,” he added.
Bumrah eventually provided India with a crucial breakthrough, removing Tony de Zorzi for 28 and ending a 93-run stand for the second wicket.
Former cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar, too, said India missed a trick by not letting Bumrah and Siraj open the second session.
“Clearly India missed the trick. This is something Rahul Dravid and Rohit Sharma must have thought about during the break and then decided to go with Prasidh and Shardul,” he said in commentary.
Former Proteas seamer Vernon Philander said on air that runs scored by South Africans of the bowling of Krishna and Shardul gave the Proteas much-needed momentum after lunch.
“Perhaps they wanted to preserve him (Bumrah) after the 6-over spell he bowled (before lunch). I think it’s a window of opportunity that India lost. India gave away 42 runs and that gave South Africa the momentum after lunch. They lost an opportunity,” Philander said.
Asked to bat first by the hosts, India were rocked early by the pacers as they were reduced to 24/3. Then a partnership between Virat Kohli (38 in 64 balls, with five fours) and Shreyas Iyer (31 in 50 balls, with three fours and a six) resurrected the visitors’ innings. The duo added 68 crucial runs.
Later, a brief counterattack by Shardul Thakur (24 in 33 balls, with three balls) and KL Rahul’s resilient 70* in 105 balls, with 10 fours and two sixes helped India to 208/8 at the day one end.
KL then slammed his century on day two and took India to 245 all out.
Kagiso Rabada (5/44) Nandre Burger (3/50) and Marco Jansen (1/52) were among the wickets for Proteas. Gerald Coetzee also took a wicket.
In their first innings, SA lost Aiden Markram early. But a 93-run partnership between Tony (28 in 62 balls, with five fours) and Dean Elgar restored momentum for Proteas. Elgar had a 131-run stand for the fourth wicket with debutant David Bedingham (56 in 87 balls, with seven fours and two sixes) and registered his 14th Test ton, ending the day at 140* in 211 balls, with 23 fours. SA ended the day with an 11-run lead at 256/5.
Bumrah and Siraj picked up two wickets while Prasidh got one. (ANI)