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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Should India pick Rahane and Rahul for 2nd Test?

Should India pick Rahane and Rahul for 2nd Test?

January 10, 2018 08:47 IST

Should Ajinkya Rahane get his place back from Rohit Sharma who failed twice in the first Test, asks Harish Kotian.
Should a struggling Shikhar Dhawan make way for K L Rahul?
Pick your team for the second Test.

IMAGE: K L Rahul, left, with Ajinkya Rahane. Photograph: BCCI

Batting is considered India's strength and not surprising so for a cricketing nation which has produced Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid among many other brilliant batsmen.

But India's batting -- which dominates games at home -- has been exposed as brittle and unreliable in Tests outside the sub-continent.

 

The humiliation of the twin 0-4 losses in Australia and England in 2011 still upsets Indian cricket fans.

India have lost 0-1 in South Africa in 2013, 0-1 in New Zealand in 2014, 1-3 in England in 2014 and 0-2 in Australia in 2014-15.

During this period, India's only triumph outside the sub-continent came in the West Indies when the team registered a 2-0 victory over the depleted hosts in 2016.

On Monday, January 8, the debacle in the opening Test against South Africa in Cape Town brought back memories of previous horrors on foreign pitches.

Virat Kohli's side didn't arrive in South Africa early enough to get acclimatised to the conditions. After playing a meaningless limited overs series against Sri Lanka, the Indian team landed in South Africa only on December 28, just a week ahead of the first Test.

Then Captain Kohli and Coach Ravi Shastri called off the only warm-up game scheduled and instead opted for special net sessions with a group of Indian fast bowlers who were flown in specifically to bowl in the nets.


IMAGE: Captain Virat Kohli, left, with Coach Ravi Shastri. Photograph: BCCI

All that planning came a-cropper when the much-heralded Indian batting line-up failed twice in a row on a lively wicket.

Openers Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan failed to cross the 20-run mark in both innings against an all-fired up South African pace attack.

India fielded five specialist batsmen for the opening Test, including Rohit Sharma in vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane's place.

These top five batsmen managed a combined 130 runs in the two innings!

If it was not for Hardik Pandya's blistering 95, India would not have crossed 200 in the first innings.

With the bubble burst so early in the tour for the world's No 1 Test team, Kohli and Shastri will need to juggle their options ahead of the second Test at the Centurion, which begins on Saturday, January 13.

The opening slot is up for grabs especially after Dhawan's no show at Cape Town.

K L Rahul is technically better suited than Dhawan for South African conditions and must be drafted in for the Centurion Test.

Cheteshwar Pujara must feel the pressure despite looking like the only Indian batsman who could hold the fort against the extra bounce and swing.

The gamble to play Rohit in place of Rahane -- the best performing batsman in the current side overseas -- back-fired.

Rohit's ineffective technique against the moving ball was exposed by Messrs Philander and Rabada and it will be a surprise if India pick him ahead of Rahane who scored 209 runs in the two South African Tests in December 2013.

Pandya is a certainty at the Centurion after his attacking 95 and three wickets.

Ravichandran Ashwin took two wickets and was the top-scorer in the second innings when his mates were all rushing to catch a shuttle back to the shed.

After struggling for rhythm in the first innings, Mohammed Shami was back to his menacing best in the second outing when he picked up three wickets.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar was as consistent as ever.

Jasprit Bumrah held his own with four wickets in his first Test and was particularly impressive in the second innings when he claimed the important wickets of A B de Villiers, Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock.

Will India retain five bowlers after their batting debacle in the first Test?

And if Kohli and Shastri bring in an extra batsman, which bowler would they drop?

How do you think India should line up for the second Test?

Please click the boxes below to select your India team for the Centurion Test:

Harish Kotian / Rediff.com