Although Rohit Sharma did not have an entirely promising start to his stint as an opener in the long format since he got dismissed for a duck in the warm-up clash between Board President’s XI and South Africa. Nevertheless, Team India captain Virat Kohli has thrown his support behind the right-hander as he sees the Mumbai-batsman needs to be given space and time to excel in the role.
“…if he comes into his own then the whole batting order looks a completely different batting order anywhere in the world,” added the skipper. When questioned if the management is thinking of giving Rohit at least five to six Tests, Kohli said: “We are not looking to rush him. There is a different pattern you follow in India and different abroad. Opening is a spot where you have to give a player space to understand his own game,” Kohli commented ahead of the match.
Virat acknowledged the fact that the opening slot was a position where a player needed to be given space and hence, the management was not looking to rush Rohit. He also stopped short of comparing his style to Virender Sehwag, but did comment the fact that if he hits his stride and takes the game forward, it will change the context of the match.
“We are not looking at a certain kind of display of batting from Rohit. It is about him finding his game at the top. Yes, his strength is to take the game forward. Like what Viru bhai used to do for the team for a long period.
“So, it is not as if someone would have told Viru bhai to attack and get a hundred before lunch. His natural instinct took over and he could demolish attacks once he felt comfortable,” he commented.
“He definitely has the ability. If the wicket is challenging and then obviously you won’t see him smashing the ball, he knows what to do.” Kohli revealed that the idea of promoting Rohit from the middle order was thought long ago but could only be implemented in the current scenario after and out of form K L Rahul was dropped from the side.
“For Rohit as well, clarity of role knowing that you have to play in a certain way, is very crucial for a player and for us the communication happened long ago.
“But we could not see a situation but now there is a situation and it is an ideal time to go ahead with it because we have spoken about it. ODIs was same with him.
“He was batting in the middle order and then suddenly opening conversations happened and within 6-8 months he was opening and we all know what happened after that. If he can do what he did in ODIs, it will be great for Indian cricket.” With the World Test Championship up for grabs, Kohli said Rohit succeeding at the top will help the team hugely.
“We have given people opportunities in the past. Mayank (Agarwal) came into the system, KL had been there for a while, (Murali) Vijay was there for a while. So there will always be room for people to come in because of their performances.
“But we feel because we have a Test championship to look forward to and Rohit’s been in the Test set up for a long time it’s about providing him the opportunity and find that template that he wants to in Test cricket,” the skipper said.
Since the start of 2016, he averages 53.00. Despite these numbers, he has played in only 11 of India’s 40 Tests and if Kohli’s statement was a metric, he could get an extended rope in this new role.
On another note Team India coach Ravi Shastri talked of a ‘rap on the knuckles.’ Captain Virat Kohli was at his side, Rishabh Pant the player under the schoolmasterly gaze. Shastri was not amused by the young Pant’s shot selection in the preceding West Indies tour. Three weeks and 23 runs (in two T20s) later, Pant has been exhcanged for Wriddhiman Saha as the wicket keeper for the first Test against the Proteas starting on Wednesday.
This will be Saha’s first international match since the Cape Town Test against South Africa in January, 2018, having struggled with injuries that forced him out of the England and Australia tours and then proving his fitness and form. After scoring Test centuries in England, where he made his debut, and Australia, Pant had looked like he had found his feet in the playing eleven, though there were question marks on his wicket-keeping abilities at the highest level. After new batting coach Vikram Rathour weighed in with the “fearless and careless” comment, the youngster’s position had looked shaky and it was confirmed on Tuesday he would sit out.
Kohli’s pre-match statements indicated Pant’s omission was not really unexpected. The skipper hailed Saha as ‘the best keeper in the world’, and that he had fully recovered from his injuries and the 34-year-old was in the right mode to re-enter the eleven.
“Saha was always going to be someone we would back as a pure keeper in Test cricket, and he’s done well under pressure situations in the past. So, it was just about finding the right opportunity and moment to bring him back in, and you need to be wary of those things in a team environment where you understand when to bring a player back, and when to give another guy more opportunities,” Kohli said. “We felt Rishabh, given the opportunities, had done well. Although Saha was always going to start, we felt to just let him ease back into things rather than just forcing him into starting immediately.” Saha was in the squad in the West Indies.
The team management wants everyone to believe the 21-year-old Pant’s 11 Test-run had a lot to do with Saha’s injuries. Yet the nature of Saha’s injuries—that saw him out of the Test team for more than a year—has been a matter of some confusion.
When Saha was ruled out of the last two Tests in South Africa in January 2018, it was said to be a hamstring problem. In the IPL in April-May, he suffered a thumb fracture. When the squad for the 2018 England Tour was announced on July 18, and Pant and Dinesh Karthik were chosen over Saha, there was no mention of any injuries. It was only three days after the selection meeting that BCCI issued a bulletin stating that Saha was nursing a shoulder tear. It only added to speculation whether Saha was being left out due to injury or there were other reasons for drafting in Pant and Karthik. The team management has constantly tinkered with the combination in search of a perfect balance, which only added to the doubts.
Now that Pant is out of the eleven following a sequence of events that was supposedly always bound to happen, the team management can be assured about this position for now. However, the musical chairs don’t end there, with the spin department too joining it.
By the looks of it, the pitch at the ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium here will provide assistance to the spinners. There was no grass on the track and Indiahave decided to go respectively with two off-spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
Until a year back, Ashwin would have been India’s automatic choice as the No.1 spinner but things have changed and Kohli seemed to make it clear. “Wherever the conditions provide us to go with two spinners, Ash is always going to be a threat. In home conditions with his batting ability and the way he bowls, he is always going to be starting with Jadeja. That was a no brainer for us,” he explained.
In the last Test series in the Windies, Ashwin warmed the bench with Jadeja playing as the lone spinner. “Ashwin and Jadeja both will start here. Jaddu we felt was in a better zone as far as performing overseas and (looking at) what he has done in the past season for the team. From that point of view, he started in the West Indies.”
Ashwin did not finish the England and Australia series. He broke down in the fourth Test at Southampton and missed the final game at the Oval. In Australia, he again broke down, this time in the first Test to be ruled out of the next three matches. The off-spinner now has a point to prove. The sight of a young South African side would only make Ashwin hungry.
The same cannot be said about Rohit Sharma. Having been given another opportunity to prove his worth in Tests, this time as opener, Sharma knows how important the series will be. A home contest won’t allow him to breathe easy as he will face Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada—both have dismissed the batsman three times each.
When is the India vs South Africa 1st Test match?
The India vs South Africa 1st Test match will be played from October 2 to 6, 2019 (Thursday-Sunday).
Where will the India vs South Africa 1st Test match be played?
The India vs South Africa 1st Test match will be played at Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium in Visakhapatnam.
What time does the India vs South Africa 1st Test begin?
The India vs South Africa 1st Test match will begin at 09:30 AM IST.
Which TV channels will broadcast the India vs South Africa 1st Test match?
The India vs South Africa 1st Test match will be telecast on the Star Sports Network. Indian audience can watch the live-action on Star Sports 1, Star Sports HD1, Star Sports 2, Star Sports HD2, DD National (DD1) and DD Sports channels.
HOW TO WATCH SOUTH AFRICA VS INDIA LIVE IN THE UK
UK – Star Gold HD (Sky channel 717, Virgin Media 801, TalkTalk Plus TV 551)
HOW TO LIVE STREAM SOUTH AFRICA VS INDIA IN NORTH AMERICA
Join our group if you are in India https://www.facebook.com/groups/1492667114138454/?fref=mentions
Join our group if you are in USA https://www.facebook.com/groups/687192931464624/?fref=mentions
Join our group if you are in UK https://www.facebook.com/groups/2295079424049851/?fref=mentions