India vs South Africa, 2nd Test: Series on the line, India batsmen need to step up in Centurion

By: Express Web Desk |

Published: January 12, 2018 6:44 pm

India will play second Test against South Africa in Virat Kohli will look to even the series in Centurion. (Source: BCCI TV)

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Former Indian vice-captain Chandu Borde, in a recent interview, offered an advise to Indian batsmen- leave the ball outside the stumps. It was precisely what went wrong with Virat Kohli-led India in the first Test against South Africa in Cape Town as they suffered a 72-run defeat. The conditions presented on a greener turf at Newlands was not what India had faced in recent time and the struggles of a fast and bouncy track became evident soon enough for the travelling side.

It did not take long for South Africa seamers Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada to exploit the conditions. It would be unfair to take credit away from them for bowling out India for low totals of 209 and 135 in Cape Town. But to say the visitors did not make mistakes with the bat would be a wrong analysis of the first Test.

India will play second Test against South Africa in Centurion. Vernon Philander got the wicket of Murali Vijay twice in the first Test. (Reuters)

Opening batsman Murali Vijay, who is known for his patience up front, gave away his wicket in a similar fashion in both the innings as he touched a ball seaming outside off-stumps and got caught at slips, both times on Vernon Philander’s delivery. So did Cheteshwar Pujara, who also gave away his wicket in a similar fashion in both the innings. Shikhar Dhawan also faced criticism for playing reckless shots and getting out cheaply.

Now with India trailing 1-0 in the 3-match series, the onus will be on Indian batsmen to not repeat the same mistakes. With India receiving flak for selection of Rohit Sharma over vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane, who has a better overseas average, it is likely he might have to sit out in Centurion to make way for Rahane. Dhawan’s spot in the playing XI has also come into contention with cricketing pundits backing the selection of KL Rahul over him in the second Test.

South African seamers are expected to bowl similar line in Centurion. (Reuters)

Even with a new batting line-up, Indian batsmen need to get adjusted with the pitch quickly in Centurion, where the ball is expected to come at a quicker pace and is expected to carry bounce and lateral movement. Even in Dale Steyn’s absence, the Proteas quicks will still challenge them with a similar line outside off stumps and the onus will be on Virat Kohli’s men to play a patience game here with the bat.

The visitors need to go a little deeper inside their crease and defend on their backfoot on bouncing deliveries. All the deliveries seaming away from off-stump must be avoided. The away side need to give themselves enough time in the middle to get used to conditions before starting the counter-attack like AB de Villers and Faf du Plessis did in the first Test in the first innings for their side.

India will play second Test against South Africa in Centurion. Jasprit Bumrah took 4 wickets in the first Test in Cape Town. (Reuters)

With Indian quicks in good form, it is touted to be India’s best chance of registering a series victory in South Africa in the longest format. But even a draw at Centurion will quash their hopes and would put a question mark on Kohli’s 100 per cent record as captain record in the format.

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