Former Pakistan captain Salman Butt reckons India got their approach in South Africa completely wrong, specifically in the batting department. Butt punched holes in India’s five-batter theory, pointing out that three out of five batters went into the series with questions being asked about their form.
India backed Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane in all three Tests but the duo only managed one fifty each. Skipper Virat Kohli was also under pressure following an extended lean spell. He did reasonably well, scoring 161 in two Tests, but could not break his century-less streak.
Analyzing India’s shock defeat at the hands of an inexperienced South African outfit, Butt stated that India got their planning horribly wrong when it came to their batting. Speaking on his YouTube channel, he said:
“India need to rethink their approach. Both form and experience matter. But what we saw in South Africa was that Rahane and Pujara were preferred over in-form players. On seamer-friendly pitches, you are relying on experienced players who are out of form. In addition, you are going in with only five specialist batters. Of the five, there were question marks on the form of at least three players. This was going to make life very difficult, which is exactly what we saw.”
According to Butt, India’s batting was being carried by Rohit Sharma and Kohli when he was in form. But the South Africa series has exposed the team’s weak links rather badly. He added:
“When Rohit Sharma is in the team and when Kohli is in form, they bat so well that they dwarf the weaknesses of the Indian batting. However, here, Rohit was absent due to injury. Kohli is in decent form but is not getting big scores. There was thus greater responsibility on the other batters, but their response was not up to expected standards.”
The two hundreds scored in the Test series came from the Indian camp. However, South Africa proved to be the better batting outfit overall, with Keegan Petersen and skipper Dean Elgar coming up with significant contributions.
“There was not enough venom in the attack” - Salman Butt on India’s bowling
The former Pakistan opener admitted that while the bowlers did a decent job, most of them lacked venom due to lack of pace when the pitch had nothing much on offer. He explained:
“In the bowling as well, India got movement in friendly conditions. But pace is also a weapon. Once the ball was not doing too much, apart from Bumrah, the others lacked genuine pace. There was not enough venom in the attack. Shami was also effective only where there was movement. India missed Siraj as well (in the 3rd Test due to injury).”
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South Africa clinched the three-match series 2-1, chasing down 212 with seven wickets in hand on Day 4 of the Cape Town Test on Friday.