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DURBAN: With one of their greatest Test wins on foreign soil now under India’s belt, the bunch that arrived here in December 2017, looking to carve a new niche for itself, is seemingly more settled.
Kohli, Rahane shut South Africa out at Kingsmead after Faf’s fighting century
The six-match One-day series that began on Thursday will be followed by three Twenty20 Internationals and that’ll get followed by a three-month window before India yet again get ready to be tested overseas, in England.
Men in Blue show bowling plans for WC 2019 are in place
Between now and then, there’s scope for introspection as much as there’s scope for patting their backs, given the manner in which India contested here.
Coach Ravi Shastri took questions on the four most talked about points that raised more decibel levels than anything else over the last one month. In doing so, Shastri – for the first time in more than a month – shared the team management’s thoughts with
Rohit over Rahane
Right from the beginning, there was no doubt in the mind of the team management that Rohit was the batsman in form while Ajinkya was struggling, not just on the field but in the nets too. Rohit was averaging more than 200 in Tests and had scored around 1200-odd runs in ODIs. So, what does the team tell him? Your runs don’t matter because that’s how it works? Performances count and that makes this whole talking point a no-brainer. We all know what Ajinkya is capable of, but before coming here, he was averaging about 30 all through 2017.
It wasn’t an overnight decision. Close to six months ago, we began work on this. Bumrah was our surprise package coming here and did it work? Of course. Tell me the last time a bowler has delivered so confidently on debut and has been learning so quickly. He was among the most consistent. In Cape Town, he bowled us back into the Test from where we could have won. In Johannesburg, he was simply intimidating.
People want to say a lot of things, but where are these people now?
Bhuvi missing in Centurion
Watch India’s first innings at Centurion. Quinton de Kock was keeping up front for Vernon Philander. That’s how slow the wicket was. Bringing in Ishant made all the difference. He has been phenomenal. We knew Bhuvi had to be played at the Wanderers and in fact, given the Centurion wicket – it had nothing for pace bowlers, leave alone swing – we knew Bhuvi would be fresh for the third Test. Ishant bowled beautifully in the first innings at Centurion, he got us both, AB & Faf and what a tireless effort it’s been from him. When did Ishant last bowl like this series? Not even Perth.
Chopping and changing
That’s why I’m saying, where are the experts now? What chopping and changing? Sometime during the Centurion Test, Ajinkya was getting back into his rhythm. He was knocking well in the nets and Rohit was struggling, so we decided to do whatever looked better at that point in time and Ajinkya was in the eleven. And he scored at the Wanderers. Dropping or picking Bhuvi was not chopping or changing. It was a decision taken according to the pitch and the conditions. It’s simple, had we scored more runs in the second innings at Cape Town and the second innings at Centurion, this whole series would’ve been different.