Sanjay Manjrekar is worried about Mayank Agarwal's mode of dismissals in his last few innings. He observed that the opening batter is poking at deliveries outside the off-stump with hard hands, which is a problem that needs to be worked upon soon.
Agarwal started the three-Test series against South Africa on a promising note, scoring a 123-ball 60 in difficult conditions in Centurion. But his form tapered off after that, with scores of 4, 26, 23, 15, and 7 in the next five innings.
He was caught at slips while trying to drive good length deliveries outside the off-stump in both innings of the ongoing Test. Speaking in this regard on an interaction with ESPNcricinfo, Manjrekar said:
"How you get out is very important for a coach or a selector to decide the future of a player and the way Mayank Agarwal has got out in the last few innings worries me. Until this Test match, I thought he was shaping well and he might [have found] a way to come with softer hands on the ball, leave balls outside the off-stump. Outside the off-stump, that channel is tricky to handle. Different batters handle it differently. Virat Kohli these days leaves everything outside the off-stump, some people play and are very confident. Mayank Agarwal needs to find a way to tackle that line."
"At the moment, he's coming with two hard [hands], with a high backlift and the bat is coming hard on the ball. The slip catches [off his bat] are also going so quickly to the catchers to suggest it's coming very hard. So Mayank Agarwal has a problem and that's I guess work for the batting coach and Rahul Dravid."
Looking at the bigger picture, Manjrekar also noted that the series has been a show of two quality bowling attacks against two 'weak' batting lineups so far. Manjrekar explained:
"We are looking at two quality bowling lineups, but the fact also remains that we are seeing two not-so-great batting lineups. One is South Africa that's weak on ability, to begin with; India of course [is] not weak in ability but on form - a lot of them are off the boil a little bit. So it's the story of two teams with weakness in the batting lineup."
Agarwal was equally bullish on his off-side strokeplay in that first innings of the series. But he got away with a few close calls and made the South African pacers pay for their inconsistent lengths. The Proteas bowlers have since been on the money, exposing the right-hander's weaknesses on quicker pitches.
"I just have no faith in this South African batting lineup" - Sanjay Manjrekar
Despite Agarwal and KL Rahul's early dismissals, India raced to a 70-run lead at the end of Day 2.
Manjrekar insisted that, barring Dean Elgar, he has "no faith" in the hosts' batting lineup, adding that a 200-run target should be enough for Team India. Manjrekar said:
"I just have no faith in this South African batting lineup. If Dean Elgar plays well, there's some hope. But when you have a batting lineup of the kind where Marco Jansen is coming so up the order, I think 200 should be enough for India's bowling attack. The kind of attack they have, with Bumrah now finding a way to bowl outside the off-stump so runs should be hard to come by. The last time they chased 240 was a combination of Elgar playing one of his best innings and India bowling poorly. That's unlikely to happen everytime."
The third day of the Test will resume at 2:00 pm IST on Thursday.