Shastri livid with Rohit’s poor captaincy on Day 2 as SA punish India bowlers | Cricket


Former India head coach Ravi Shastri was livid with Rohit Sharma‘s captaincy after lunch on Day 2 of the Boxing Day Test against South Africa at the Supersport Park in Centurion. The Test match hung in balance with South Africa at 49/1 after India put 245 on the board in their first innings. Considering the overhead conditions and movement on offer in the pitch, one would have hoped India come out all guns blazing to push the South African batters on the backfoot in the post-lunch session but what transpired for the the first 40 minutes of the second session was a flurry of boundaries from the bat of Dean Elgar and Tony de Zorzi.

India captain Rohit Sharma reacts(REUTERS)
India captain Rohit Sharma reacts(REUTERS)

Sure Elgar and Zorzi batted pretty well, especially Elgar. The experienced left-hander, playing in his last series, looked positive and pounced on any opportunity to put India under pressure. But India captain Rohit Sharma’s tactics of starting the session with Shardul Thakur and Prasidh Krishna instead of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj would have helped.

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Shardul’s historic seven-wicket haul the last time they toured South Africa must have played a part in it. Otherwise, there is not much logic to let him bowl the first over after the lunch break and then follow it up with debutant Prasidh Krishna from the other end.

The result? 42 runs in 8 overs. Shardul and Prasidh bowled the odd good ball but they were nowhere near as consistent with their lines and lengths as India would have liked to. There was no pressure on Elgar and de Zorzi. Elgar also got to his 24th Test half-century off just 79 balls.

“On any pecking order, these two (Shardul and Prasidh) would have been the last to start the proceedings (after lunch),” said Shastri on commentary. The former India all-rounder seemed bemused and a tad irritated by India’s tactics. “That’s something that we’ve 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.”

When captain Rohit finally decided it was enough, South Africa had raced to 91/1 in their first innings. Prasidh, who conceded close to six runs an over and Shardul were both taken off the attack and in came Bumrah and Siraj.

The first thing Bumrah did was put a brake on the scoring rate. He got the ball to zip from around the wicket to trouble both the left-handers. In his third over of this spell. Bumrah got one bite from a length and found the outside edge of de Zorzi’s bat to send him back to the pavilion for 28.

Keegan Peetersen’s wicket soon followed. The right-hander dragged one back to his stumps. The two quick wickets brought India back in the match. What if Bumrah and Siraj or at least one of them had bowled from the beginning of this session?

Manjrekar, Philander say India missed a trick

Former India cricketer, Sanjay Manjrekar said India missed a trick. “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 South Africa pacer Vernon Philander said the 42 runs that India leaked before throwing the ball to Bumrah gave the momentum to South Africa.

“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,” he said.

Earlier, KL Rahul slammed his 8th Test century to take India to 245. Resuming the day on 208/8, Rahul added valuable runs with Siraj and Prasidh to take India to a respectable total. For South Africa, Kagiso Rabada picked up five wickets while debutant Nandre Burger sneered three.

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