top of page

SA vs IND, Centurion: Over dependence on Rohit, Kohli and Rahul as batters hurt India

South Africa vs India, Test: Over dependence on Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and KL Rahul as batters hurting India? Jaiswal, Gill and Iyer playing their first Test in South Africa.

Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma to focus on Test Cricket after Cricket World Cup 2023 final loss_ Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©X_Twitter)
Rohit Sharma, Kohli or Rahul need to play anchor role in 2nd Test (Photo: ©X/Twitter)

India finished the year 2023 with a daunting loss inside three days by an innings and 32 runs, during the first of the two-match Test series against South Africa at the SuperSport Park in Centurion. With the defeat, their dream of winning their maiden Test series in South Africa broke, and the long-lasting wait continued. They, now, have also lost their last five Tests in SENA countries. 

Even in the innings defeat, India were over-dependent on Virat Kohli and KL Rahul, whose century in the first innings ensured a decent total of 245. Even in the second innings, Kohli was fighting alone, only to lose partners from the other end. And it’s the same story that’s constant in Indian cricket. 

Over-dependence on Rohit, Kohli and Rahul in Centurion

India were struggling at 24/3 in the first hour when Shreyas Iyer joined Kohli in the middle. Kohli kept his ego aside and played a magnificent knock of 38 runs. Even though he got an early reprieve, Kohli respected the conditions and focused purely on his technique.

When he got out, Rahul handled the situation well. Primarily, he looked to respect the condition, before deciding to play his natural aggressive brand of cricket. His superior knock of 101 runs shouldered India to a fighting total of 245 runs. 

In most of the foreign conditions, India is heavily dependent on these three players. In the 2021-’23 edition of the World Test Championship (WTC), Kohli was the highest run-getter for India with 932 runs in 17 matches at an average of 32.13 with three fifties and one hundred. Rohit made 758 runs in 11 matches at an average of 42.11 including a couple of fifties and two centuries, while Rahul cracked 636 runs in 11 innings at an average of 30.28 with two centuries and a couple of fifties. 

When India drew their last England Test tour in 2021, Rohit Sharma was India’s highest run-getter with 368 runs in four games at an average of 52.57, whereas Rahul nailed 315 runs in four Tests at an average of 39.37. Both of the openers batted brilliantly against the new ball attack and didn’t expose India’s middle order. 

England vs India, Edgbaston Test 2022_ Shubman Gill failed as an opener (17, 4) against England in 5th Test. Walking Wicket (Photo: ©X/Twitter)
Shubman Gill averages 27.22 in Test Cricket (Photo: ©X/Twitter)

The curious case of Gill in Test cricket

Time is running out for Shubman Gill, who after a promising start to his Test career, has gone down terribly in this format of late. Since his incredible debut series in Australia, Gill has 735 runs in 16 Tests at an average of just 27.22. In both the hundreds he scored in the period, one was against Bangladesh in Chattogram when India had a 254-run lead, while the other came on the high-scoring flat Ahmedabad track. 

With India developing a new opening partnership, Gill was demoted to number three in the West Indies tour, where he made 6, 10 and 29* in three innings. He struggled in Centurion too. In the first innings, after hitting Kagiso Rabada for a four, he gloved a ball from Nandre Burger down the leg-side to the wicket-keeper. 

He started well in the second innings, dispatching Rabada and other bowlers in all corners of the park for some aggressive-looking boundaries. But again, his curious wish to go for a flick against tall Marco Jansen saw him playing too much across the line and getting bowled. Because he shuffles so much in flicking the balls through mid-on and mid-wicket, he becomes a major candidate for LBWs and bowled dismissals. 

For every side, the best players play at one drop. If Gill keeps on having these problems, India could think of dropping him in the middle order, and lift Rahul at three, who showed great technique against the moving ball in England a few summers ago.

Jaiswal’s inexperience at the opening spot

The openers are the heart of any side in foreign tours, and they set the platform for the team. In both innings, India’s opening partnerships were 13 and 5 respectively. Yashasvi Jaiswal started well in the first innings with a few cracking fours but soon got an edge to a ball that bounced awkwardly to take his gloves into the wicket-keeper. 

Yashasvi Jaiswal played well in his debut series in the Caribbean, but the quality of the bowlers he faced on that kind of surface was different from South Africa. In both innings, he was exposed against the short balls terribly, and the lanky pacers won’t make it easy for him in Cape Town either. His 20s or 30s won’t help India, especially at the opening spot, and he needs to develop these skills in the game soon. 

India vs New Zealand, 1st Test, 2021 - Shreyas Iyer raises his bat as he scores century on Test debut (Images_ ©BCCI_Twitter)
Iyer touring South Africa for the first time in Tests (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)

Iyer’s familiar issues with the short ball

The craziest thing about any batter’s struggle against short balls is that he would rarely get out to the short balls, and most of his dismissals would be on the fuller deliveries. Shreyas Iyer is one of those candidates. With his weakness against short balls familiar to world cricket, Iyer tends to stay at the backfoot. Because he puts his weight on the back foot, he throws his bat onto the balls, which are away from his body, and ends up getting the outside or inside edges. 

After a good little partnership in the first innings, he was done by a length ball that stayed a little low and broke his furniture. Even in the second innings, the ball took his inside edge and hit the stumps. He is new in these conditions and perhaps needs to isolate himself from playing too many aggressive shots, besides working on this weakness. 

Pressure mounts on India’s batting as they will begin the new year with the second and final Test of the series on January 03 at Newlands in Cape Town. 


bottom of page