The 72-run loss and two batting failures is a combination that forces teams to change plans, approach and playing XI, Rahul, Rahane likely to come in.
It was the day of the ‘non-playing four’ at the Newlands. The bench hit the ground running while the playing XI stayed at the team hotel. Giving them the company was the team’s support staff. The 72-run loss in three playing days and two batting failures is a combination that forces teams to change plans, approach and playing XIs.
Ajinkya Rahane, KL Rahul, Parthiv Patel and Ishant Sharma would sweat it out at the nets with the hope of being match-ready whenever the opportunity came knocking.
Sharma got the new ball and let rip with the three batsmen bearing the brunt. In a way, it was a net session where the support staff gave the batsmen a feel of what they can expect in case they get a look in at Centurion or Johannesburg – the venues that are expected to have pitches with sharper bounce but slightly less seam movement.
The first practice net had three members of the support staff with side-arm, the ball thrower that dog-lovers use. They would mix it up to test the batsmen. There was Philander-like seam movement, Morkel-like short balls and Rabada—like swinging deliveries — all bowled at high speed. In the next net, there was Ishan with the new ball and a few net bowlers. Rahane, Rahul and Patel would switch positions after every six balls, toggling between facing the side-arm, resting and Sharma. It was a workout that kept the batsmen on their toes all the time.
Kohli, after the loss, had defended his team selection saying the think tank had picked the playing XI based on the players’ current form. That’s how he had dodged the questions about dropping Test specialist Rahane for shorter version stars, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan.
However, the loss can change things since Rohit and Dhawan are no longer players in form. So who among the four seen at Newlands on Tuesday can make it to Centurion on Saturday?
Here’s looking at how they can make the XI:
Ajinkya Rahane: It can simply be a case of him replacing Rohit at No. 5 since Pandya’s place in the team is cemented. Considering Centurion would have a lively track, the all-rounder spot is sealed. Ashwin sitting out for Rahane can also be a possibility.
Parthiv Patel: He can replace Wriddhiman Saha behind the stumps and open in place of Dhawan. With him taking two responsibilities, even Rahane can be included.
He can take Dhawan’s position at the top or Rohit’s slot down the order. Also, as was the case with Rahane, replace Ashwin.
Ishant Sharma: For Ashwin, since spinners might not have a role in the second Test or a surprise switch with either Shami or Bumrah.