By Nadim Memon | Opening Doorz Editorial | January 22, 2018
There have been surprises galore coming from the Indian camp in South Africa. The first surprise was the dropping of Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane for the first Test. After the hosts won by 72 runs, Rahane still did not find a place in the team for the second Test. To make matters worse, Opener Shikhar Dhawan also faced the axe and in came K L Rahul. But the most surprising act was the axing of Bhuvneshwar Kumar who had returned with a haul of six wickets in the first Test, to make way for Ishant Sharma!
Virat Kohli is from Delhi, so is Ishant Sharma. Need, I say more? Methinks, Ishant should retire from cricket. Critically speaking, Sharma has no bite in his bowling. K L Rahul is a good batsman suited for One-day cricket. Same goes for Rohit Sharma.
The selection only goes to show that the captain is over-confident in not including Rahane, a pure Test batman, whilst depending heavily on Cheteshwar Pujara. The dropping of Shikhar Dhawan as opener cost us dearly.
The Indian team is always worried about the pitches that will be offered to them: whether it will be a green wicket or one with a hard top with lots of bounce. It is these mind games that always bring our Indian cricketers down and the South African skipper, Faf du Plessis, made sure he drove his team’s advantage home by stating that the visitors should get green top wickets. This worked for them: Kohli and the Indian think-tank made some not so flattering changes.
It will be Interesting to note that in March last year (March 25-28), when Australia visited India and captain Kohli was ruled out for the fourth Test in Dharmasala with a shoulder injury, Rahane took over as skipper (India’s 33rd Test captain). Together with then coach Anil Kumble, they included spinner Kuldeep Yadav in the playing XI which turned out to be a masterstroke. Yadav claimed four important wickets in the first innings which saw the Australian score restricted to 300.
India won by 8 wickets!
It may be recalled that Kumble wanted Kuldeep to be a part of the 3rd Test in Ranchi but Kohli was against it. So, is Kohli being fair to talent within the Indian team or playing favourites? Having match-winners warm the benches and running with drinks on the field does not augur well for a skipper who displays so much emotion on the field. This was the starting point of the ending of Kumble as a coach. The gentleman that he is, Kumble decided to move away instead of turning it into an ugly spat with an immature kid.
The wicket at the New Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg for the third and final Test beginning on January 24 will play good: It will be a good batting wicket (with a hard bounce) and will last the entire five days.
The question for India, however, remains: Will Ngidi make the Indians do the Lungi dance? Only Kohli can answer that question: he has a weird team selection process, you see!
(Nadim Memon is a man of the maidans. He is a curator, a sports lover, a cricketer, a footballer and more, importantly a fierce protector of maidans for the younger generation!)
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