Mohinder Amarnath is backing Hardik Pandya to bat up in the order. The former Indian cricketer is impressed with Pandya's attacking approach. He thinks the all-rounder's ability can be fully utilized in up the batting order which can corner the opposition.
Hardik had scored a quick 93 off 95 balls in the first innings of opening Test at Cape Town. His innings helped India to come back in the game after being seven down for 92.
Amarnath, who scored 4378 runs in 69 Tests for India wrote in his column for Times of India that Pandya should bat higher and attack the opposition.
"Pandya should keep playing the way he did in the first innings [of 1st Test]. He loves hitting the ball and that's the way to go. He also should bat higher as he can take the attack to the opposition. India need to show more guts against pace bowling and need someone at the top to come through."
Amarnath was also impressed with the debutant Jasprit Bumrah. His control and variations impressed the former cricketer. Bumrah had picked important wickets like AB de Villiers and skipper Faf du Plessis in the match.
"Bumrah's inclusion in this format is a good sign for India," Amarnath wrote. "Now they have a lot of variation as far as bowling is concerned whenever the team plays overseas."
Mohinder Amarnath also talked about the batting failure of India on overseas and said, "The batting again is an issue. Actually, it was amazing — I've never seen the ball beat the bat so often as when India were batting. In both innings! That shows it's not just about technique but you have to play aggressively as well."
He did hope that India performs better as the tour progresses, given that they didn't have much time to get used to the conditions.
"Whenever you play overseas, the first Test is always very challenging. This is because after playing on slower, flatter, low bounce pitches at home suddenly you go abroad and you don't get much match practice before the big game. It does take some time to get used to the bounce and pace but we were beaten fair and square. I was expecting the bowlers to do well and always felt that it could be challenging for the batsmen to continue the form they show at home," he wrote.
While some wanted few key changes in the Indian playing XI for the second Test, Amarnath had reckoned India might go with the same playing XI that took the field in Centurion; but he wants Ajinky Rahane to be included.
"I was a little surprised that a player of Ajinkya Rahane's caliber was ignored. True, he is going through a lean patch but that happens to all good players. Some players like to play on a faster track; he's one of those who likes the ball to come on to the bat and struggles sometimes on slower wickets," he opined.
He also praised the Proteas pace attack, who he thinks has done their homework, as was evident with the way they dealt with the Indian batsmen in the first Test.
"South Africa will feel they can carry on from where they left off although they have lost Dale Steyn. They, however, still have pace bowlers in reserve so that's not going to be much of an issue. The Proteas seem to have worked out a couple of things where India's batting is concerned," he wrote.
"Firstly, they are not really bowling up to them that often and as a result, India were not scoring much off the back foot. Secondly, the variation of Philander, and pace of Rabada and Morkel worked and they will probably go with the same pace attack, and maybe an allrounder in place of Steyn; someone like Morris who can contribute with the bat too."