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Umesh Yadav

Umesh Yadav. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Umesh Yadav. (Photo Source: Twitter)

I Can’t Believe That Shardul Thakur And Umesh Yadav Still Get Picked – Nick Compton

Former England cricketer Nick Compton believes that India didn’t pick the right bowling combination as he stressed that Umesh Yadav and Shardul Thakur don’t belong to the no.1 test team as he showed a surprise that India is still persisting with them.

Thakur played all three matches in South Africa as he delivered a record-breaking spell (7/61) in the Johannesburg Test and Umesh Yadav played the last test match in Cape Town when Mohammad Siraj missed the final test match due to an injury.

Re India – Said it last year Thakur is not a world test number one top-line bowler and neither is Yadav. I can’t believe they still get picked! Tell me @RaunakRK,” Nick Compton tweeted.

Umesh Yadav conceded 4 runs per over in the final test as he picked two wickets in the first innings. The story is pretty much similar for Shardul Thakur as well as he picked one wicket in each innings. South Africa chased down the target of 212 at the loss of just 3 wickets.

This means India’s dream to win their first series in South Africa, remained unfulfilled. This was the 8th Test series between India and South Africa in the rainbow nation as South Africa won 7 of them, the series in 2010-11 was ended in a draw.

Nick Compton, Umesh Yadav. (AP Photo)
Umesh Yadav. (AP Photo)

Umesh conceded runs with 4 runs per over in the Cape Town Test:

India team management has been facing criticism for not picking combination as there was a general perception that Ishant’s height factor could have been on these helpful pitches but Ishant’s record wasn’t great last year as he picked just 14 wickets in 8 test matches last year.

His performance wasn’t up to the mark either as he went wicketless in the Headingley Test. And add to that his record in South Africa, the 33-year old picked 20 wickets in 7 matches with an average of 40 which made Indian management think the experienced bowler has gone past his prime.

So they went with Umesh Yadav who picked 6 wickets at the Oval when India famously beat the hosts to take a 2-1 lead in the series. So the team management played a gamble with him as Kohli also stated that the fast bowler is good in the field as he can also score some handy runs down the order.

Also read Virat Kohli Can “Go With His Head Held High”, Tweeted Former Coach Ravi Shastri

Jasprit Bumrah (Photo by PETER PARKS / AFP)
Jasprit Bumrah (Photo by PETER PARKS / AFP)
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Sunil Gavaskar Correctly Predicted Jasprit Bumrah Will Trouble South Africa The Most In The 3rd Cape Town Test

Sunil Gavaskar has showered praise on an Indian bowler who he thinks will trouble South Africa the most in the Newlands encounter. It turned out true after Jasprit Bumrah picked his 7th fifer in Test cricket as he delivered a terrific spell with figures of 23.3-8-42-5. It’s notable that India never lost a Test match when Jasprit Bumrah took a fifer. Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami bagged two wickets each, and Shardul Thakur picked up one.

Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, and Shardul Thakur had their task cut out after Virat Kohli-led Team India folded for an underwhelming total (223) on Day 1 of the third and final Test match against South Africa at Cape Town’s Newlands.

Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah (AP Photos)
Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah (AP Photos)

Sunil Gavaskar Reckons Jasprit Bumrah Is The Bowler The South Africans Worry About The Most

Batting legend Sunil Gavaskar, who is an integral part of the commentary panel for the South Africa Test series, has showered praise on an Indian bowler who he thinks will trouble South Africa the most in the Newlands encounter.

With skipper Virat Kohli putting up a show for the visitors, Indian speed merchant Jasprit Bumrah also made early inroads by removing South Africa skipper Dean Elgar before the end of the day’s play. Pace ace Jasprit Bumrah got the better of the veteran opener in the 5th over of South Africa’s 1st innings at Cape Town. Batting legend Sunil Gavaskar backed Jasprit Bumrah to emerge as the wrecker-in-chief for the hosts in the 3rd Test match.

Sunil Gavaskar. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Sunil Gavaskar. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Speaking to Star Sports amid the series decider between India and South Africa, Sunil Gavaskar claimed that Proteas will be wary of Jasprit Bumrah’s abilities.

“He is the bowler the South Africans worry about most. Look at what Jasprit Bumrah can do. He can bowl the slower delivery. He has got the delivery which leaves the left-hander which is where he got Elgar. He has got the one that moves slightly away from the right-hander,” Gavaskar said. 

“He has got the fast yorker, the slow yorker. A very sharp bouncer. He has got the goods. He has got everything over there. He unfurls all these weapons very cleverly at the right time,” Gavaskar added.

Jasprit Bumrah ended up taking five wickets for India as the Proteas managed to post 210 in their 1st innings. Jasprit Bumrah cleaned up Aiden Markram on the second delivery of the day’s play on Wednesday. The Indian pacer removed Keegan Petersen (72), Marco Jansen (7), and Lungi Ngidi (3) to emerge as the pick of the bowlers for the Virat Kohli-led side.

Rishabh Pant Hits Fifty And India On Top Despite Losing 2 Early Wickets On Day 3

After losing two wickets (Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane) early on Day 3, India captain Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant have built up a good partnership and it’s still going strong against South Africa. In what could well be the end of the road, senior pros Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane have failed once again in the Cape Town Test, leaving India in a perilous place in the deciding Test match. The former scored 9 runs while the latter scored 1 run.

Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters)
Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters)

Rishabh Pant has played some good shots and looked in great touch since morning along with Virat Kohli. India leads by 143 runs with Rishabh Pant having just registered his half-century in the final over before Lunch. India is 130/4 with Virat Kohli unbeaten on 28 playing as many as 127 balls.

Jasprit Bumrah AP Photo/Rui Vieira
Jasprit Bumrah AP Photo/Rui Vieira
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Jasprit Bumrah Has The X-Factor With Him Said Ashish Nehra After He Bags 5 Wickets

Jasprit Bumrah, India’s ace fast bowler, bagged his seventh five-wicket haul on Day 2 of the third Test match against South Africa in Cape Town. India bundled out South Africa for a paltry 210, gaining a small lead of 13 runs at the halfway stage of the match.

Over the last few years, the Indian pace attack has been at the helm, bringing India back from troubled situations. In the ongoing third test as well, the bowlers bowled superbly after the batters managed a below-par score of 223.

Jasprit Bumrah (Photo by PETER PARKS / AFP)
Jasprit Bumrah (Photo by PETER PARKS / AFP)

Jasprit Bumrah Has The X-Factor With Him : Ashish Nehra

Former Indian seamer Ashish Nehra dissected India’s bowling performance at the end of Day 2. Ashish Nehra spoke highly of Indian pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah in his review.

“Bumrah rarely upsets his captain. Indian captains, be it Virat Kohli or MS Dhoni have turned to Bumrah in crucial situations. He has the X-factor with him.”

He added: “Bumrah has a variety of deliveries in bouncers, slower ones, or Yorkers. But he understands that they are rarely used in Test cricket. He has mastered bowling in proper line and length which is required in Test cricket.”

Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah (AP Photos)
Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah (AP Photos)

It is noteworthy that Jasprit Bumrah bowled 24 overs in South Africa’s first innings. Whereas the next highest overs bowled were 16 by both, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami. Ashish Nehra also said that Mohammed Shami is no less than Jasprit Bumrah.

Jasprit Bumrah picked his 7th fifer in Test cricket as he delivered a terrific spell with figures of 23.3-8-42-5. It’s notable that India never lost a Test match when Jasprit Bumrah took a fifer. Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami bagged two wickets each, and Shardul Thakur picked up one.

“Jasprit Bumrah has impressed a lot since 2018. However, Shami has equally impressed me. It will be difficult to choose between the two if I have to select anyone. Shami is able to take wickets even when batters are settled.”

Mohammed Shami has already picked up 13 wickets in the ongoing series averaging a mere 19.46 with a five-wicket haul in the 1st Test. He is India’s leading wicket-taker in the ongoing series and 3rd overall after Kagiso Rabada (18) and Marco Jansen (16). Ashish Nehra also explained that South Africa gave up a few more runs in the last session due to inconsistent lines and lengths.

“Indian bowlers have been very good at bowling around the off-stump channel on fourth or fifth stump. They have bowled better than South African bowlers.”

India, at the end of Day 2, led by 70 runs besides losing two wickets. The openers lost their wickets quite quickly, but Cheteshwar Pujara and captain Virat Kohli managed to remain unscathed towards the end of the day’s play.

Ashish Nehra: Lead Of 70 Runs A Very Important Lead As Chasing More Than 200 Runs In The 4th Innings Always Difficult In Tests

Ashish Nehra believes that India will be able to defend a target of around 200 in the fourth innings.

“Lead of 70 runs is a very important lead. If a team is leading by 70 runs, with the loss of only 2 wickets, it is in a good position on any surface. As chasing more than 200 runs in fourth innings is always difficult in Test matches.”

Ashish Nehra (Image Credit: Twitter)
Ashish Nehra (Image Credit: Twitter)

Keegan Petersen played a fine inning of 72 for South Africa while losing partners at the other end. Ashish Nehra believes that the Proteas missed out on getting a lead of 30-35 runs.

“Instead of South Africa getting a lead of 30-35 runs, India managed a lead of 13 runs at the end of second innings. [Subsequently], the speed at which India scored in the last session, was also good. India must be happy with it, and consider it as a mental victory.”

There are still three days left in the ongoing Test match. Day 3 is often termed as the moving day. It will be interesting to see if India can bat throughout the day or if South Africa will make early inroads.

Mohammad Shami / AFP / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Mohammad Shami / AFP / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
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Gautam Gambhir Praised Most Threatening Pacer Of The Series 31 Year Old Mohammed Shami

Gautam Gambhir, former India opener lavished high praise for the 31-year-old pacer Mohammed Shami, calling him the most threatening bowler of the series, being impressed with his wonderful spell.

Indian pacers enjoyed a fine outing on Day 2 of the second Test against South Africa in Cape Town. The Proteas were bowled out for 210 as India managed to get a slender lead, with pacers Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, and Shardul Thakur combining to pick all 10 wickets.

Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah (AP Photos)
Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah (AP Photos)

Gautam Gambhir: No One Would Want To Face Mohammed Shami

While Jasprit Bumrah led the attack and emerged as the star of the day, registering a seventh five-wicket-haul in Tests, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami bagged two wickets each, and Shardul Thakur picked up one. However, while it was Jasprit Bumrah who broke the back of the South African attack, one particular spell bowled by Mohammed Shami was what turned the game on its head.

In one over, Mohammed Shami dismissed Temba Bavuma to break a promising partnership and followed it with the wicket of Kyle Verreynne for a duck. Suddenly, from a strong position of 112/3, South Africa slumped to 159 for 6, to eventually bundle out for 13 runs short of India’s first-innings total.

Gautam Gambhir AFP
Gautam Gambhir AFP

Impressed with Mohammed Shami’s wonderful spell, former India opener Gautam Gambhir lavished high praise for the 31-year-old pacer, calling him the most threatening bowler of the series.

“More than the fear, he was threatening throughout the day, in this innings, and probably throughout the series. The kind of lengths which he bowled, kept testing the batter. Ask any top batsman. No one would want to face him. He bowls so close to the stumps that he is always in or around off-stump. And from there on, he gets the movement and from there on he gets the edges,” Gambhir said on the Byju’s Cricket Live Show on Star Sports.

 India was 57 for the loss of two wickets at stumps in the second innings of the ongoing third Test against South Africa at the Newlands in Cape Town. The visitors have taken an overall lead of 70 runs. India lost openers Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul early but Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara steadied the ship. Earlier, India had taken a 13-run lead after bowling out the hosts for 210.

Gautam Gambhir: Mohammed Shami Is Relentless And Is Threatening

Gautam Gambhir used a couple of wonderful adjectives for Mohammed Shami and hailed him as one of the best Test bowlers presently in the world. While Jasprit Bumrah took the cake, finishing with 5/42 – his seventh five-for in Tests, Mohammed Shami’s figures of 2/39 from 16 overs was equally impressive.

Mohammed Shami
Mohammed Shami. Image Credits: Twitter

“I think Mohammed Shami or Jasprit Bumrah will keep challenging any batter. More me, Mohammed Shami is relentless and he’s very threatening. He is probably one of the best bowlers going around in red-ball cricket,” Gambhir added.

Keegan Petersen top-scored with a fighting 72 before he was dismissed by Jasprit Bumrah just after Tea. Initially, India posted a total of 223 with skipper Virat Kohli top-scoring with a fighting knock of 79. Mohammed Shami has already picked up 13 wickets in the ongoing series averaging a mere 19.46 with a five-wicket haul in the 1st Test. He is India’s leading wicket-taker in the ongoing series and 3rd overall after Kagiso Rabada (18) and Marco Jansen (16).

Virat Kohli, Image Source : AP IMAGE
Virat Kohli, Image Source : AP IMAGE
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Aakash Chopra Highlights That Virat Kohli’s 79-run Knock Was Precious Than Many Of His Tons

Aakash Chopra has highlighted that Virat Kohli’s 79-run knock on Day 1 of the third Test against South Africa was more precious than many of his centuries. With the series level at 1-1, India was all out for 223 in the first innings of the third Test with Proteas pacer Kagiso Rabada taking four wickets.

Virat Kohli played a resolute knock in India’s first innings of the ongoing 3rd and final Test and resisted the South African attack for 201 deliveries. Despite his efforts, Team India was bowled out for 223 runs to give the early advantage to the hosts in the series-deciding encounter.

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Aakash Chopra: Virat Kohli’s 79 More Valuable Than A Lot Of Centuries

In a video shared on his YouTube channel, Aakash Chopra was effusive in his praise for Virat Kohli.

He said: “We saw the patience, discipline, determination, dedication and that it is mind over matter. Whatever you want to see in a batter in Test cricket, you got to see that. A century has not been missed by 21 runs but he has scored 79 runs. These 79 runs are more valuable than a lot of centuries.”

Virat Kohli | Photo Credit: AP
Virat Kohli | Photo Credit: AP

The cricketer-turned-commentator added that Virat Kohli’s praise should be written in golden letters.

Aakash Chopra elaborated: “The lone ranger Virat Kohli was left alone as the entire team got out from the other end. You should write poetry in his praise, the sort of batting we saw. We see the beautiful shots from Kohli, we see the domination and the passion. Here, we saw the passion but not the domination.”

The South African bowlers persisted with a line outside the off-stump at the start of Virat Kohli’s innings and played with his patience. However, the Indian skipper did not fall into their trap and refrained from playing those deliveries.

Aakash Chopra: Virat Kohli Might Have Scored A Ton If He Wouldn’t Have Ran Out Of Partners At Other End

Aakash Chopra pointed out that Virat Kohli might have breached the three-figure mark if he had adequate support from the other end. He looked destined to get to that elusive 71st century. With no reliable partners at the other end, the Indian skipper went fishing for a delivery outside off after 200 deliveries at the crease.

He observed: “He did play the drives but played them only after forcing the bowlers to bowl straight, else he will keep on leaving the deliveries. If a partner had remained, he might have scored a few more runs and probably the wait for the century would have ended.”

Rahul Dravid (L) and Virat Kohli in the dressing room during 2nd Test at Wanderers.(Twitter)
Rahul Dravid (L) and Virat Kohli in the dressing room during the 2nd Test at Wanderers. (Twitter)

The 44-year-old also termed the knock as one of the finest he has seen. Virat Kohli scored his second slowest fifty of his career as he reached the mark in 158 balls. Notable that he hasn’t scored a hundred since November 2019 but as he looked like getting one, he ran out of partners so he chased an outside off-stump delivery in search of quick runs.

Aakash Chopra explained: “Whoever saw this knock, will remember it for a long time. It was a knock of absorbing pressure, Kohli was exactly like a sponge. One of the finest knocks you would have seen.”

Aakash Chopra concluded by saying that Virat Kohli’s knock was a fitting birthday tribute to Rahul Dravid. He highlighted that the skipper demonstrated all the qualities of the current India head coach during his knock. Fit-again skipper Virat Kohli scored his highest score in 26 innings, with a gritty 201-ball 79.

Keegan Petersen and Rassie van der Dussen brought South Africa back into the game at Lunch with an unbeaten 50-run stand post-Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav’s fiery spell early on Day 2. Jasprit Bumrah castled Aiden Markram’s woodwork on the second ball of the morning while Umesh Yadav also cleaned up Keshav Maharaj to send South Africa totally on the back foot.

Lunch On Day 2 – South Africa 100/3 after 35 overs (Petersen 40*, Van der Dussen 17*) trail India 223 (Kohli 79, Pujara 43, Rabada 4-73)

India's Ishant Sharma prepares to ball during the third day of the second Test cricket match of a two-match series between India and Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens cricket stadium in Kolkata on November 24, 2019. (Photo by Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP) / IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE
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Ishant Sharma Or Umesh Yadav- Who Will Replace Injured Siraj?

As Mohammad Siraj faced a hamstring injury at Johannesburg, India is in a selection dilemma for his possible replacement. Ishant’s height factor makes him a very tempting option but his recent form has been poor so Umesh Yadav might get a nod ahead of him. While the other likely change in the XI will be the skipper Virat Kohli replacing Hanuma Vihari as he has recovered from a back spasm.

Ishant Sharma
Ishant Sharma[Image-Twitter]

Ishant picked only 14 wickets in 8 Tests last year

In the second test, the hosts made a strong comeback as the skipper Dean Elgar led from the front to get a 7-wicket win to level the series by 1-1 as the decider will take place in Cape Town from January 11.

As India will be chasing their first series win in South Africa, they need to get their pace combination right. Indian pace attack couldn’t exploit much on a helpful surface at the Wanderers. India coach Rahul Dravid pointed out that India missed a tall pace bowler who could have exploited the uneven bounce of that surface.

“It felt to us that sitting outside, quite a few balls (bowled by SA pacers) kicked up and hit the batters on gloves. You expect the same when your bowlers are bowling. Just felt like the ball seemed to have misbehaved a little more for them and could be because of height. It is because on an “up and down” (variable bounce) wicket, it can happen because of that extra height, tends to make little difference. Obviously, it did not misbehave as much as it did for them,” Rahul Dravid spoke in a post-match press conference at Johannesburg.

Umesh Yadav. (AP Photo)
Umesh Yadav. (AP Photo)

So Ishant Sharma is the frontrunner to get into XI for Cape Town Test. Though his recent form is pretty average. In last year he picked only 14 wickets in 8 Tests with an average of 32.71. His record in South Africa isn’t encouraging either as he picked 20 wickets in 7 tests in South Africa.

On other side, Umesh Yadav who never played a Test in South Africa despite travelling with the team in the last 3 tours, might put his case strongly as the pacer picked 6 wickets against England in a historic win for India at the Oval last year.

Another change might be straightforward as Virat Kohli is likely to replace Hanuma Vihari. Though there are criticisms over the form of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane but the fifties in the second innings by the duo might save their places at least for another test. Though Vihari looked good in the Johannesburg test as he scored a gritty unbeaten 40 in the second innings.

Also read Reetinder Singh Sodhi Feels It Won’t Be A Big Deal If Rishabh Pant Is Dropped From 3rd Test For His Mistakes

Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane Image Source : GETTY IMAGE
Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane Image Source : GETTY IMAGE
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Reetinder Singh Sodhi Believes It Would Be A Big Call If India Leaves Out Ajinkya Rahane To Include Now Fit Virat Kohli

Reetinder Singh Sodhi believes it would be a ‘big call’ if the Indian team leaves out senior batsman Ajinkya Rahane from their XI for the third and final Test against South Africa.

Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara, who have both struggled for form of late, scored attacking half-centuries in the second innings of the Wanderers Test against the Proteas. Hanuma Vihari, who played that Test as a replacement for Virat Kohli (ruled out for back spasms), also stood out with fighting knocks in both innings.

Reetinder Singh Sodhi. Photo Credit: Getty Images.
Reetinder Singh Sodhi. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Reetinder Singh Sodhi: One Out Of Ajinkya Rahane Or Hanuma Vihari Will Play

In the 2nd Test, Cheteshwar Pujara scored 53 runs off 86 deliveries and stitched together a 111-run partnership for the third wicket with Ajinkya Rahane. It was also Cheteshwar Pujara’s fastest Test fifty away from home. Ajinkya Rahane played a fluent knock of 58 runs off 78 balls but India fans expect more from the duo. Ajinkya Rahane averaged a lowly 20.82 with the bat in 2021.  Cheteshwar Pujara hasn’t scored a hundred since January 2019.

Now, former Indian cricketer, Reetinder Singh Sodhi has opined that only one out of Hanuma Vihari or Ajinkya Rahane might feature in the Indian playing XI if Virat Kohli returns back for the 3rd Test. Reetinder Singh Sodhi feels that Hanuma Vihari warrants a place in the Indian playing XI for the third Test.

During a discussion, Reetinder Singh Sodhi was asked about the selection dilemma for Team India, to which he replied: “If you talk about the combination, one out of Ajinkya Rahane or Hanuma Vihari will play. It will be a big call if you don’t play Ajinkya Rahane because Hanuma Vihari has not done anything wrong; he played a very pivotal knock.”

Hanuma Vihari
Hanuma Vihari (AP Photo)

The former India all-rounder Reetinder Singh Sodhi  added that Ajinkya Rahane would be slightly fortunate to retain his place in the playing XI, explaining: “Rahane has also scored runs, where the form has been seen. So it will be a huge decision, and if Rahane plays, it could be a lifeline for him because somewhere or the other, he has been struggling. He will be able to cement his place once again if he wins the decider for the Indian team.”

Virat Kohli and Rahul Dravid opted to stick with Ajinkya Rahane ahead of Hanuma Vihari and Shreyas Iyer for the first Test against South Africa, despite the former Indian vice-captain’s indifferent recent returns. With the 33-year-old scoring a fifty in Johannesburg, it is unlikely he will be dropped now.

Former India cricketer Reetinder Singh Sodhi believes that leaving out Ajinkya Rahane would be a big call for the tourists. Reetinder Singh Sodhi further opined that if Ajinkya Rahane gets a chance, given the rough patch he is going through, it would be a ‘lifeline’ for the Mumbai batter.

Saba Karim: Biggest Question Posed Will Be Team Combination As To Whether Ajinkya Rahane Or Hanuma Vihari Will Be In Playing XI

Saba Karim was asked about Virat Kohli’s biggest challenge on his probable return as captain for the 3rd Test and he replied it’s team composition as Hanuma Vihari and Ajinkya Rahane are fighting for a middle-order berth.

He replied: “The biggest question that will be posed is the team composition. Virat will have to decide with Rahul Dravid what the XI should be. The big question is, because Virat Kohli is coming back into the XI, whether you will leave out Ajinkya Rahane or Hanuma Vihari.”

File photo of former wicketkeeper Saba Karim. – The Hindu
File photo of former wicketkeeper Saba Karim. – The Hindu

The former India selector added that a choice will also have to be made between Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav if Mohammed Siraj is unavailable.

Saba Karim observed: “Siraj is injured at the moment, so whom will you play instead of him. I feel if you look towards experience, you should definitely play Ishant Sharma. But things will be decided based on who is bowling better between Umesh and Ishant in the nets.”

Mohammed Siraj suffered a hamstring injury on Day 1 of the Johannesburg Test. Although he returned to the field and bowled a few overs, the team management is unlikely to take a risk with him for the all-important series decider. The third and final test will begin on January 11 at Cape Town as India will be eying for their maiden series win in South Africa. India’s next assignment in Tests will be a 2-match series against Sri Lanka at home in February-March.

Virat Kohli, Image Source : AP IMAGE
Virat Kohli, Image Source : AP IMAGE
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Rahul Dravid Hopeful To See Virat Kohli Return For 3rd And Final Test

Rahul Dravid said that he is hopeful of seeing Virat Kohli return for the third and final Test against South Africa slated to be played in Cape Town from January 11-15.

Rahul Dravid’s remarks came after India stumbled to a seven-wicket loss in the second Test against South Africa at the Wanderers, Johannesburg. Virat Kohli had missed the second Test due to back spasms and in his place, KL Rahul stepped in to lead the side.

Virat Kohli is highly likely to be fit for 3rd Test. | Photo Credit: AP
Virat Kohli is highly likely to be fit for 3rd Test. | Photo Credit: AP

Rahul Dravid: Virat Kohli Should Be Fine From All Accounts And Should Be Good To Go In 4 Day’s Time

If Virat Kohli comes back, it could mean that Hanuma Vihari, who was impressive with an unbeaten 40 in India’s second innings, could return to the bench. With India continuing to back their senior batters, the likes of Hanuma Vihari and Shreyas Iyer – who made a Test century on debut in November, but was out of contention with a stomach bug in Johannesburg – have had to bide their time for playing opportunities.

“Virat Kohli should be fine from all accounts, he should be fine. He has had the opportunity to run around a little bit, he has had the opportunity to test it a little bit. Hopefully, with a couple of net sessions in Cape Town, he should be good to go. Everything I am hearing and just having a chat with him, he should be good to go in four days’ time,” said Rahul Dravid during a virtual press conference.

When asked about his take on India’s batting performance in the series so far, Rahul Dravid said, “It has been challenging wickets for both the teams, South Africa’s fourth innings was probably their best with the bat. Yes, as a batting unit we can look to seize a few key moments and when we get partnerships, we can look to make them longer. It was challenging in the first innings but we could have gotten 55-60 runs more which could have made a huge difference.”

Rahul Dravid Photo Credit: PTI
Rahul Dravid Photo Credit: PTI

“Certainly, we would like to bat a little better. Maybe the guys who got starts could have converted them into 100s. That was the difference in the first game, we had Rahul scoring a century for us and we ended up on the winning side. Dean Elgar scored 96 in this Test and South Africa ended up on the winning side,” he added.

Dean Elgar played a captain’s knock scoring an unbeaten 96 to take the hosts to a 7-wicket win leveling the 3-match series 1-1 against India. After the rain interruption, the play finally started on the penultimate day of the Test match where South Africa resumed the day with an overnight score of 118/2.

Rahul Dravid Praised The Likes Of Hanuma Vihari And Shreyas Iyer

Dean Elgar and Temba Bavuma comfortably took South Africa home with the captain fittingly scoring the winning runs as the hosts leveled the 3-match Test series 1-1.

“Hanuma Vihari played really well in both the innings. He batted beautifully in the second innings, Shreyas Iyer batted well for us in the past. The guys have to take heart from the fact that they are doing well when the opportunity is presenting itself. It happens, it is the nature of the sport and we can take confidence from the way Vihari batted in this game,” said Rahul Dravid.
Dean Elgar file photo (Photo by Dianne Manson/Getty Images)
Dean Elgar file photo (Photo by Dianne Manson/Getty Images)

“I would not say we were complacent in this game, we were in this game. We felt 240 in the final innings would not be easy to defend, but with a little bit of luck, we would have had a much better chance. It is something an area we can look to get better at, but I would not put it down to being complacent,” he added.

Shreyas Iyer was indeed the first choice to replace Virat Kohli, but since he too was unfit, Hanuma Vihari got a game. With Shreyas Iyer scoring a fabulous century on debut not too long ago, it was believed that he would be the first in line to replace the injured Virat Kohli in India’s Playing XI for the Johannesburg Test against South Africa, but the man taking the India captain’s place was Hanuma Vihari.

Virat Kohli’s return may mean Hanuma Vihari’s axe for the 3rd Test. If Mohammed Siraj is not fit, India has the required backup pacers in the experienced veteran pacers Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav for the match, which starts on January 11.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar (AP Photo)
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (AP Photo)
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Aakash Chopra Tweets If Bhuvneshwar Kumar Was Born In South Africa, He Would’ve Ended Up With 250-plus Test Wickets

Aakash Chopra, the former India opener made a big claim on pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who is not a part of the Test team at the moment. India produced a fighting performance on Day 3 of the second Test in Johannesburg against South Africa, as the side set a 240-run target for the Proteas to win the game.

South Africa did finish the day strongly at 118/2 but the Indian bowlers will be aiming to exploit the deteriorating pitch condition when they return to the field on Day 4.

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Aakash Chopra Tweets If Bhuvneshwar Kumar Was Born In South Africa, He Would’ve Ended Up With 250 Or More Test Wickets

The Indian pace attack in the second innings – comprising of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, and Shardul Thakur – wasn’t at its very best during the final session of the day and the absence of Mohammed Siraj, who pulled his hamstring during the first innings of the Test, seemed to make a significant impact.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar[photo: Twitter]
Bhuvneshwar Kumar[photo: Twitter]
Towards the end of the day, the former India opener made a huge claim over a particular Indian bowler who is not a part of the Test team at the moment but was an integral all-format player until early 2018.

“If Bhuvneshwar Kumar was born in South Africa, he would’ve ended up with 250+ Test wickets,”  Chopra tweeted.

https://twitter.com/cricketaakash/status/1478747009561481219?s=20

Bhuvneshwar Kumar has represented India in 21 Tests so far, taking 63 wickets. However, injuries at regular intervals not only plagued his Test career but also impacted his limited-overs outings for the team. The 31-year-old made a return to the Indian team last year in the white-ball series against England, having last represented the side in August 2019.

The Indian bowling attack for this particular Test series has the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav, and Shardul Thakur. While Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav are yet to play a Test match in this series so far, Ravichandran Ashwin is the specialist spinner in the side with Shardul Thakur playing as an all-rounder. Shardul Thakur also bagged his career-best Test figures of 7/61 in this 2nd Test match.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar Is Facing Stiff Competition From Likes Of Mohammed Siraj And Shardul Thakur

Since Bhuvneshwar Kumar last played a Test, the Indian pace quartet of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, and Umesh Yadav has achieved significant success in the home and overseas Tests. Over the past year, pacers like Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur have also produced impressive performances, adding to further competition for Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Image Credit: Twitter)
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Image Credit: Twitter)

However, the 31-year-old bowler is still an integral part of the Indian white-ball setup and has been selected for the upcoming three-match ODI series against South Africa. The 31-year-old right-arm pacer has not played multi-day format cricket since January 2018 when he last appeared in a Test in South Africa. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Prasidh Krishna, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj have been named in the ODI squad facing South Africa.

South Africa, chasing 240 to win is already 118/2 needing another 122 runs to win at stumps on day 3 of the 2nd Test, as the first session of the 4th day’s play was washed due to rain. India is leading 1-0 in the 3 Test match series.

The start of the fourth and penultimate day’s play in the second Test between India and South Africa was on Thursday delayed because of rain. South Africa needs 122 runs to win the match and restore parity in the three-match rubber, while the visiting Indians need eight wickets to emerge victoriously and script their maiden Test series win in the Rainbow Nation.

Gautam Gambhir AFP
Gautam Gambhir AFP
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India Should Stick With 5-bowler Strategy, Opines Gautam Gambhir

Former India opener Gautam Gambhir believes that India should stick to its 5-bowler strategy in Johannesburg however he suggested one change in the XI to bring Umesh Yadav in for Shardul Thakur.

In the first test at Centurion, India beat the hosts by 113 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the 3-match series. The second Test of the series will begin on Monday as India will be eying for their first series win in the rainbow nation.

Gautam Gambhir. Photo Credit: Getty Images.
Gautam Gambhir. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

In a column for TOI, Gambhir insisted that India shouldn’t take the conservative approach to play with 4 bowlers. He also suggested that Umesh Yadav’s raw pace might be handy at Johannesburg.

“Johannesburg will pose stiffer challenges for the batsmen. On this ground which is located on a higher altitude, there is a pace and bounce. India should continue to be relentless. I read somewhere that India may consider going in both four bowlers instead of five in the second Test match. This is being contemplated to accommodate Hanuma Vihari or Shreyas Iyer.

“I just hope this is pure media speculation and not a series thought by the Indian think tank. Personally, I would be inclined to play Umesh Yadav in place of Shardul Thakur. Umesh’s raw speed with control his biggest strength and that is what Kohli would need,” Gambhir wrote.

Umesh Yadav. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Umesh Yadav. (Photo Source: Twitter)

I would be inclined to play Umesh Yadav in place of Shardul Thakur- Gautam Gambhir

As far as batting is concerned, Gambhir suggested that India should stick with the same combination. Rahane’s form in the first test convinced him enough to stick with him for this Test. He also shared a piece of advice for the Indian captain. He suggested to Kohli to buy time and show more discipline outside off stump.

“I wasn’t too keen to play Rahane in the first game. But with a decent 48 in the first innings perhaps he would have won himself a place in the second test match too. I’d continue with Cheteshwar Pujara at no.3. A lot is being said about Virat Kohli’s dismissals in the first Test match. I think some of it is unfounded and creates unnecessary chaos. Kohli has been exceptional in his run-making for India, he just needs to leave lot more balls outside the off-stump and buy time.” he added.

Gambhir also said that India shouldn’t get carried away with the result of the match as there are lots of issues that need to be addressed.

Also read “I Wouldn’t Advice Him Leaving Balls Outside Off-Stump”- Sanjay Manjrekar Advises Virat Kohli To Trust His Back-Foot Game More

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