South Africa vs India 2018: Ganguly disappointed by Kohli dependence on home form
What’s the story?
Former India captain Sourav Ganguly has expressed his displeasure at current captain Virat Kohli for depending on home form to pick his playing eleven on the South Africa tour. “It is fine to go by current form, but they should not have overlooked the performances of KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane in overseas conditions in the past few years,” Ganguly told India Today, disagreeing with Kohli’s policy of picking Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma for the first Test at Cape Town.
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Before the South Africa tour started, both Dhawan and Rohit had shown great form while playing Sri Lanka at home in a three-Test series. While Dhawan hit 192 runs at 48 at a high strike rate of 75.89 with two half-centuries, Rohit also played two games in which he smacked a century and twin half-centuries.
He tallied 217 runs and was dismissed only once as India won the series 1-0. Before that, Dhawan had also got 358 runs with two centuries while Sri Lanka hosted India for three Tests, striking at a rate of over a hundred.
Meanwhile, Ajinkya Rahane suffered a rare run of bad form across 2017.
The heart of the matter
India failed to chase down 208 in the Cape Town Test as the ball was swinging around on a track aiding pace and seam substantially. In the match, Dhawan twice got out for 16 and Rohit made 11 and 10, both falling to the rapid pace of the hosts.
Highlighting the contrast in their performances, Ganguly added, “The history of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma in overseas conditions is not very good. Their record is basically chalk and cheese when it comes to overseas Tests.”
At the same time, however, he felt that Kohli might still stick with the pair for the upcoming second Test. “Virat [Kohli] has shown a lot of trust in Rohit and Shikhar. It seems highly unlikely that they will not be given a second chance.”
The second Test begins on January 13 at Centurion on a track which is even more renowned for its pace than the one which Cape Town offered. Following that, the series moves to Johannesburg, a pitch very similar to that of Centurion, for the final Test.
It was surprising that Kohli opted for the adventurous Dhawan and Rohit in place of a much more stable KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane, who have been proven performers away from home in the past.
Rahane has a Test century in New Zealand, England, Australia, Sri Lanka and West Indies, just missing out in South Africa and Bangladesh by a couple of runs, while Rahul too has three centuries on foreign pitches. Hence Ganguly’s disappointment at India’s selection is justified.