When India announced their playing XI for the first Test against South Africa, there was one notable omission in the list. Ajinkya Rahane, who has scored runs at an average of 69.66 in his last South Africa tour back in 2013-14, was left out and it didn’t take long for cricket experts and fans to question the move.
The murmur concerning Rahane’s exclusion amplified even more with Virat Kohli’s side losing the match by 72 runs. On Thursday (January 11), legendary Proteas pacer Allan Donald came out in support of the elegant Mumbai batsman by saying that it’s harsh to keep such a world-class batsman out of the team.
“I really think it’s harsh to keep Rahane out. Last time he was here he had a great tour. I think for me, Rahane is the man who can steady the ship. He is a rock-solid guy and a good head on his shoulders,” Donald quoted in an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times.
“South Africans see Rahane sitting on the bench and carrying drinks and they would say ‘wow’. They would rather have that, you know. He’s an absolutely world-class player,” he added.
Donald though backed India opener Shikhar Dhawan to come good in the next Test. The 51-year-old feels Dhawan is an attacking player and is a very tough batsman to bowl at.
“I consider Shikhar Dhawan to be a really aggressive player. If they make that change, South Africa will believe ‘right, that’s good for us’. Dhawan is a world-class player. He is a hard man to bowl to because he makes you change the length because he is so attacking,” opined Donald.
“From my point of view, if there is a change in the top, South Africa will think ‘okay, good we have KL Rahul instead of Shikhar Dhawan’ who is of aggressive nature. I would definitely continue with Shikhar,” he further explained.
Allan Donald also put forward his viewpoint on the Indian pace attack that featured in the opening Test at Newlands.
“I think it’s an amazing bowling lineup. They have passion, control, they are very aggressive and that was a spirited bowling performance. That positivity can be taken to the next Test match. Yes, they are different in pace but they have a lot of skill. South Africa’s bowling attack is based on pace with the exception of Philander while the Indian bowling attack has got incredible variety,” Donald commented.
“If South Africa keep preparing wickets like this, it will bring the two teams closer. That’s what happened yesterday. India came out with an amazing performance. I think they will take a lot of that moving into Pretoria and Johannesburg where the wickets will definitely be faster, bouncier and it will definitely go a little sideways as well,” he concluded.