Even though Team India are doing reasonably well in their ongoing tour to the rainbow nation, former South Africa skipper Shaun Pollock feels that the world No. 1 Test team should have prioritized the red-ball cricket in a different way.
Pollock questioned India’s approach towards the recently concluded three-match Test series against South Africa, which Virat Kohli and company conceded by 2-1. The 44-year-old deems India’s lack of preparation as the biggest rationale behind their Tests series loss.
“I was a little bit surprised by their batting. When they came on this tour I thought it was going to be their strength. I was a bit disappointed by the way they went (in the Test series),” Pollock said accrding to PTI.
“Looking back, I think they have identified that preparation wise they needed to be here for more time. I suppose it goes down to what are the actual goals you want to achieve. If you want to win Test series away from home, then you have to give them more priority. And priority means more preparation.
“I think going out to England, we have heard some guys are going to play county cricket. So preparation wise I think they will be better equipped when they go there or to Australia,” said the former all-rounder,” he added.
Having conceded the first two Tests in Cape Town and Centurion, Team India bounced back emphatically to register a memorable 63-run victory in the third Test at Johannesburg. Moreover, the Men in Blue annihilated the hosts in the ODI series to clinch their first ever bilateral ODI series win on South African soil.
“We have seen they are now settled in ODIs. Probably they could have structured the tour better and had ODIs before Tests, and that could have been better preparation for India,” Pollock asserted.
“I think practice matters. You need to have two practice matches and have a guarantee that you are genuinely good opposition than just developing players. You have to set your goals.
“Is it a great thing to win the ODI series or is it a great achievement to come and win a Test series in South Africa, which you haven’t done? Maybe that’s where the priorities haven’t met the same preparation,” he explained.
Most importantly for India, their skipper Virat Kohli has led from the front. Having amassed the highest number of runs (287) in the Test series from either side, the Indian captain has aggregated a total of 429 runs in 5 innings at a remarkable average of 143 in the ODI series thus far. Kohli has been adjudged Match of the Match for notching up his 33rd and 34th ODI ton in the first and third match respectively.
Talking about Kohli’s form, Pollock said: “I saw an interview at the start of the tour and he was talking about backing himself in these conditions. That positivity and approach paid off for me.
“He wasn’t fearful of the conditions and he wanted to grind out performances. He obviously came here with the right mind set. I thought the rest of the batting group would have been similar, but there wasn’t anyone else who supported him particularly in the Tests,” he elaborated.
When asked about Kohli’s on-field aggression, Polly said, “I am not saying aggression is what he is offering, but it’s more the attitude that I can back myself, win the battle and come out on top.”
“Malcolm Marshall taught me to have a great respect for the opposition but also to have a great self-belief that wherever you come up against them, you respect them but you win the battle.”
Pollock was in all praise for the Indian bowling attack that managed to scalp all 60 wickets in the Test series and continued their dominance in the ODIs as well.
“That’s fantastic. But you have to look at surfaces that they have played on. The hardest one to get wickets was Centurion, but on the other two, there was plenty of assistance.
“But yes, I am impressed with India’s stock,” he concluded.