Batting coach Vikram Rathour candidly admitted that Team India’s batters put up yet another below-par effort on Day 1 of the Cape Town Test against South Africa. According to Rathour, India ended at least 50-60 runs short of a par score in the first innings.
Electing to bat first after winning the toss under overcast conditions, India folded for 223 in 77.3 overs. Virat Kohli led from the front with a defiant 79, while Cheteshwar Pujara contributed 43. However, none of the other Indian batters could reach 30.
Speaking to the media at the end of the first day’s play at Newlands, Rathour conceded that batting was tough and run-scoring wasn’t easy. He, however, also agreed:
“But we were below par even today. We could have scored 50-60 more runs. That’s what at least we were expecting. But that’s the thing.”
Praising Kohli and Pujara, Rathour lamented the lack of contributions from lower-order batters. The Indian batting coach added:
“Today Virat played a phenomenal innings. I think he looked really good, Pujara was looking good. But then, they (South Africa) bowled a good spell in the morning, conditions were overcast. But I think there were some soft dismissals in the latter part of the innings. We could have done better, definitely.”
Considering India’s out-of-form batting line-up, Kohli’s decision to bat first was a brave one. Asked to explain the mindset behind the move, Rathour elaborated:
“When we saw the wicket in the morning, it looked good and hard. The conditions were overcast but the forecast said it would clear out soon. We back ourselves as a batting unit to score runs under such conditions. Generally, teams win the toss and bat first at this venue and score good runs.”
India were reasonably placed at 95 for 2 in the 38th over when Pujara fell. After that, only Kohli and to an extent Rishabh Pant (27) offered some resistance.
“We still have the bowling to defend this”- Vikram Rathour
Despite admitting that India did not put enough runs on the board in their first innings, Rathour asserted the visitors still have the bowling to stay alive in the contest. He stated:
“We would have loved to have gotten close to something around 300. But this is what we have scored. We have the bowling. If we bowl with discipline and the kind of skill that we have… Even today, whatever we saw with our bowling, if we can bring in similar intensity tomorrow, we still have the bowling to defend this.”
Jasprit Bumrah dismissed South African captain Dean Elgar (3) just before Stumps on Day 1. The Proteas will resume their first innings on 17 for 1, with Aiden Markram batting on 8 and nightwatchman Keshav Maharaj on 6.