By Vivek Prabhakar Singh
New Delhi [India], December 30 (ANI): The Indian team dominated the Centurion Test right from the word go with skipper Virat Kohli winning the toss and electing to bat first and India went on to score 327 runs in the first innings which helped them take 130 runs lead.
Despite day-2 being completely washed out due to rain Virat Kohli and company managed to wrap up the Test match with more than one and a half sessions to spare on day-5.
"Yes, we can see this Indian team winning the Test series 3-0 because South Africa's batting is not looking that great. Only Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram and Quinton de Kock can chip in but if all the pressure is on these three then the team can't win because Indian bowling is very strong. It is due to rain that the match got over on the fifth day otherwise you will see matches getting over in 3 or 4 days," former India cricketer and former selector Sarandeep Singh told ANI.
The Indian team went on to win their first-ever Test at the SuperSport Park in Centurion and Virat Kohli became the first Indian captain to win two Test matches in South Africa. His first win as a captain came at the Wanderers in Johannesburg. One of the main architects of the Indian win have been the fast bowlers with Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj bowling out the Proteas for less than 200 in both innings.
"Yes, it is big news. I think this is the first Asian team to win in Centurion. A big congratulations to Rahul Dravid on his first win as coach in SA. It is very difficult to beat SA in their country. It is a huge moment for the Indian cricket team. The way Virat Kohli handled the side and the way our fast bowlers bowled especially Mohammed Shami. Jasprit Bumrah got an ankle injury but he came back and bowled well and surprise package Mohammed Siraj. We all talk about batters but look at our fast bowlers. It was a combined effort by the Indian team. SA bowlers bowled well but look at our bowlers. Credit goes to Ravi Shastri also and now the team is under Rahul Dravid. Even Bharat Arun deserves credit for fast bowlers. The way he worked with them for 4-5 years," Sarandeep Singh told ANI.
The Indian team got off to a great start in this Test match as openers KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal put on 117 runs for the opening wicket laying a solid foundation. KL Rahul now has centuries in Australia, England and South Africa showing that he has the potential to play on these fast and bouncy pitches.
"Even Mayank Agarwal played well after sitting out in so many Test matches. Talking about KL Rahul he is improving with every match, series. Earlier he used to open in T20s and now Test matches. Credit shouldn't only go to Dravid but also to batting coach Vikram Rathore. He spends a lot of time with batters. Even the lower is batting very well. KL Rahul is very focused and hard working. He is a complete player who can play as an opener and also as a middle-order batsman. It is not that he can only play as an opener." explained Sarandeep Singh while speaking to ANI.
Virat Kohli had a satisfactory match as a captain but with the bat, he failed to make an impact and the year 2021 ended without the talisman scoring a ton like a year 2020. His last century came in November 2019 against Bangladesh in Kolkata and since then he has not scored a ton in any of the formats.
"If Virat Kohli does not score a century then we think that he is not scoring because he has scored so many centuries that if he is not able to score a century then we feel that he has failed. Virat Kohli if you see In England then he scored the 70s-80s. But he is definitely going to be confident. He is working very hard on his game. He is looking confident also. So, there is nothing to worry about," said former India selector Sarandeep Singh.
It is not only skipper Virat Kohli who is struggling for form but even former vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara are not able to score runs. Rahane got the start in both the innings with scores of 48 and 20 but failed to make it big while Pujara got off to a duck in the first innings and could only score 16 in the second innings. With the likes of Shreyas Iyer and Priyank Panchal waiting in the wings, they need to score or they can get dropped from the team.
"For Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara. Rahane scored the runs in the first innings but Pujara got out for zero. There is pressure on Rahane too because Shreyas Iyer got a hundred on debut. He will have to score a big hundred if he wants to stay in the team these 30s-40s are not big enough. Some tough decisions need to be taken by the management but it is good to see Dravid backing the senior players. Pressure will be on Rahane and Pujara to perform because you cannot keep youngsters like Shreyas Iyer and Priyank Panchal out for too long. Shubman Gill, Prithvi Shaw, Devdutt Padikkal are waiting in the wings. This is the pressure Rahane and Pujara are facing," Sarandeep Singh told ANI.
India have won the match and taken a 1-0 lead but if they want to dominate the series then their middle order needs to fire as there are talented players like Shreyas Iyer waiting in the wings who scored a century on his debut against New Zealand and even Priyank Panchal can get a look in. (ANI)