Team India’s playing XI for the first two Tests against South Africa took a lot of people by surprise as there were some notable omissions in the list.
Ajinkya Rahane, who has done exceptionally well in India’s overseas tours previously, was left out of the team at the expense of Rohit Sharma in Cape Town and Centurion.
On the other hand, the Indian team management had astonishingly dropped Bhuvneshwar Kumar from the second Test at SuperSport Park Centurion. It is pertinent to mention that Bhuvi has scalped 6-wicket haul besides scoring 25 and 13* in the two innings of Cape Town Test. Bhuvneshwar got replaced the lanky speedster Ishant Sharma, as Kohli felt he needed a work horse bowler in conditions that did not offered swing or seam movement.
The murmurs concerning Rahane and Bhuvneshwar’s exclusion amplified even more with Virat Kohli’s side conceding an unassailable 2-0 lead to the Proteas in the three-match Test series.
On Saturday (January 20), former India all-rounder Manoj Prabhakar came out in support of Ajinkya and Bhuvi saying that it’s a shame to keep the duo out of the team.
“This is a shame. If you start picking Test side on T20I or ODIs form, then you’re gone. It’s a specialist job to play new ball in Test matches,” Prabhakar was quoted by PTI as saying.
“We have Rishabh Pant here, will you play him for a Test? — He can score a century in 25-30 balls. There you need different technique. But here one batsman scores double century in ODIs and his position is fixed. Rahane should have (played)… That’s our problem,” he added.
Stressing on Bhuvneshwar’s ability to swing the ball both ways, Prabhakar said the 27-year-old should be back in the side for the third Test, scheduled to be played at New Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg from January 24.
“Bhuvi should be back, he swings a lot with lateral movements. When the ball swings, South Africans struggle, they are good at negotiating seam but not very good against swing,” Prabhakar opined.
“He has proven in two IPLs that he’s the best choice bowler before anybody. I will drop anyone for Bhuvi. Such a bowler will do his job in the first 20 overs.”
“Bhuvi swings in the air, a very rare type of bowler as most swing off the wicket. He swings late in the air. Why not use him with new ball? He will fetch you three wickets with new ball,” he further elaborated.
Prabhakar, who has represented India in 39 Tests, also criticized the Indian top-order batsmen saying that most of them are influenced by IPL-style big-hitting and have forgotten the art of leaving deliveries.
“The main thing is you should know when to leave the ball. They don’t know how to apply themselves. If you’re a compulsive hooker, you should know how to avoid an incoming delivery,” he said.
“Defence is the best offence. I was also an opener. When I could survive why can’t they survive. You should know how to leave. This is not lack of practice, this is the cricket nowadays. With a lot of IPL, our trend is to hit the short ball. Trend is not how to leave,” concluded Manoj Prabhakar.