India Vs South Africa, 2nd Test: 3 Reasons why India Should Enforce the Follow On
India has ended day three of the second test against South Africa in Pune in a strong position. The day ended with the fall of the last South African wicket to Ravichandran Ashwin, which has given India a first-innings lead of 326 runs. The lead could have been much more substantial but for a gritty ninth-wicket stand of 109 runs between Vernon Philander and Keshav Maharaj, a partnership that resisted the Indian attack for more than 40 overs.
Captain Virat Kohli will now have to take a decision regarding whether to bat again for a few hours or to enforce the follow on. Both decisions have their merits and demerits, as usual. But there are three compelling reasons as to why India should enforce the follow on.
The weather forecast for day four is not great news for India. It is predicted to be a rain-interrupted day. If that indeed is the case, apart from the fact that precious overs will be lost, the Indian batsmen would be unsure about their approach in a stop-start day.
Moreover, Faf du Plessis will certainly try his best to slow down the proceedings, ensuring that valuable time is eaten away in bowling the required number of overs. At the same time, India will not be able to declare early as the threat of leaving South Africa with too many overs to chase the target entails a certain amount of risk, that any side would like to eschew.
The pitch has not deteriorated to the extent it was expected to. There have been some odd occasions when deliveries have skidded on or turned square. But it is no landmine, and as the South African ninth-wicket partnership showed, with proper application, batsmen could certainly stay for a long haul.
In such a situation, Kohli should try to give his bowlers enough overs to tide over the frustrations of some inevitable long partnerships on a pitch that is still not too bad for batting.
#Presence of five bowlers:
One of the major reasons given by some experts for not enforcing the follow on is that the bowlers have had to toil very hard on a gruelling third day and they need to be given some rest. But the fact remains that thanks to the timing of the end of the South African first innings, the bowlers would now get more than sixteen hours rest which should be enough for them to recover.
Moreover, apart from Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, the three pacers have not bowled much. They have bowled only forty overs among the three of them and have taken five wickets. All three of them would be fresh and raring to go. They would certainly like to have a go at the fragile South African top order with a new cherry in hand in the morning session. And from the second session onwards, the spinners can take over the bowling responsibility.
At the moment, enforcing the follow on would certainly increase India’s chances of an Indian victory, and not doing so would hand South Africa a chance at having to survive less number of overs to eke out a fighting draw.