While many cricket experts and fans are slamming skipper Virat Kohli for his bold selection decision that resulted in India’s 72-run defeat in Cape Town, former India captain Sourav Ganguly has come in his support, saying the visitors should keep their faith in the current batting line-up.
“Virat Kohli should not worry about such things (team combination). Although KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane have a good history of scoring runs away from the sub-continent and have better records as batsmen, India can't just chop-and-change in every game,” Ganguly wrote in his column for The Times of India.
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“They have shown faith in the current batting and that should continue in the next Test as well. They still have two more Tests to play and I feel all the matches will produce results,” he added.
Ganguly believes India’s bowling attack is their biggest strength in South African conditions and playing five bowlers will benefit the visiting side. In the first Test, bowlers displayed tremendous grit and bundled out dreaded South African batting line-up for 286 and 130 in successive innings.
“There has been a lot of talk about the combination. India did the right thing by going in with five bowlers. As much as scoring runs is important in a bid to win Test matches, getting wickets is also key. The reason why we were thinking of an Indian win at some point is because the bowlers got 20 wickets and that will continue to be an important criteria over the next two Tests,” the 45-year-old added.
It was bowlers who gave India some hope after they got a humble target of 208 runs. However, India’s much-valued batting line-up failed to deliver on bouncy pitches and they were folded for paltry 135 runs.
While many of the great batsmen appeared struggling on the bouncy wicket, Indian all-rounder made merry of Proteas’ bowling attack and slammed an impressive knock of 93 runs in the first innings.
Ganguly heaped praise of the 24-year-old all-rounder and urged captain Kohli to keep him in the playing XI for the second Test. “Hardik Pandya came good with the bat and India should persist with him. The problem lies with the overall batting performance, and this has to be fixed soon. There will be a lot of talk about players who were not in the playing eleven. That's always the case when you lose.”
According to the southpaw batsmen, the Cape Town Test brought an answer to the ever-arising question ‘Is Test cricket still alive’? “The first match between South Africa and India was a great exhibition of Test cricket where the ball dominated the bat. The great part about the surface was that even on the fourth day the bowlers were in the game. I have played on the Newland pitch and at some stage of the game the conditions always got better for batting. This, however, was not the case in the first Test,” Ganguly said.
Acclaiming that the pitch at Newlands was extremely difficult for Indian batsmen to bat on, Ganguly added: “I have played on similar sorts of pitches in the past, at Headingley or the Wanderers, and though India finished on the winning side then, the bowlers were always in the game. To be honest, this was a tough pitch for Indian batsmen as it was the first Test of the series and the boys were still getting used to the conditions.”