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South Africa is no Lanka
13 January 2018, 02:11 | Anna Jefferson
Virat Kohli got a start in the second innings but was unable to convert it into a substantial contribution
Ganguly's comments were in response to Virat Kohli's post-match press conference where he defended Rohit Sharma's inclusion by saying that they looked at his recent performances. Others who spent significant time in the fast bowlers' net were Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara and Rohit Sharma. His 13 of 14 Test hundreds have come in subcontinent conditions.
Granted Rahul did not get enough match practice in the long format during the run up to the tour, while vice-captain Rahane was frustratingly out of form during the past few weeks.
The opening Test loss had much to do with the bowling profligacy in India's first innings, which allowed South Africa to make 286 after being 12 for 3, but the top-order batsmen too will want more from themselves, having collectively failed in both innings. I was not surprised by the result. "But we chose to go with this combination and current form was definitely the criterion", added Kohli.
While neither batsman can or should be blamed for staking places in the side just before this tour, in doing so they managed to keep out of the XI two players undoubtedly more suited to the seaming conditions in South Africa: Lokesh Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane. Rohit scored a century and two half-centuries in the three-Test series against Sri Lanka at home, which India won 1-0.
Amidst all this noise generated by various talking heads, TOI can confirm that Karnataka opener Lokesh Rahul - who sat in the first Test - will return to the playing eleven at the Centurion for the second Test match starting Saturday.
Rahul's case becomes all the stronger as Dhawan was sloppy in the field and even dropped a catch in the first innings, denying Bhuvneshwar Kumar a five-wicket haul. If you had just arrived hoping to watch India's famed batting strut its stuff, you would have had to avert your eyes. "The batting didn't come out well so I'm not anxious on the bowling front at all".
Similarly, in the pace department, Jasprit Bumrah was handed debut straightaway with the more experienced likes of Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav warming the benches. Despite Rohit failing in both the innings, Virat Kohli and the team management are keen on giving the middle-order batsman yet another chance. Vijay's spot could be left as it is as the Tamil Nadu-born swashbuckler has more experience up his sleeve in the South Africa conditions.
The SuperSport Park pitch has a reputation for being one of the most hard places to bat but 39 centuries have been scored in the past and Indian batsmen need to show the required dedication and commitment to keep this three-match Test series alive. In spite of Kohli justifying this faux pas, it is somewhat of a suicidal move because although Sharma is in the form of his life, Rahane has proven his credentials in nearly every overseas tour he has been part of.
As Bumrah said, "Your confidence doesn't take a dent after one Test match".
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The most perplexing axing was out-of-favour batsman Gary Ballance, who didn't get selected in the entire Ashes series. Nearly three months ago, the all-rounder was controversially involved in a fist fight outside a bar in Bristol.