South Africa vs India 2018, 1st Test: What went wrong for the visitors
One of the most anticipated series of 2018 started on a bright note as South Africa and India produced an exciting first Test. It was a low-scoring game, but both teams fancied their chances throughout the game.
South Africa were reduced to 12/3 but a counter-attack from AB de Villiers changed the course of the first innings to help South Africa post 286. But Indian batsmen (the top order in particular) couldn’t stand up and India couldn’t capitalize with the bat and were 7 down below 100 runs in the first innings.
But with a target of 208 to get in the fourth innings after the bowlers managed to pull India back in the game, the visitors were in with a definite chance. But again, the top-order failed and India were bowled out for 135 and lost by 72 runs.
It was Vernon Philander, who took three wickets in the first innings and ran through the Indian middle order in the second, to bowl the Proteas to a victory and help them go 1-0 up in the 3-match series.
#5 Team selection
When Virat Kohli announced the team at the toss, there were three major surprises. First of them was Jasprit Bumrah’s inclusion. He was selected ahead of experienced pacers Ishant Sharma (who was the favourite for the third seamer’s spot) and Umesh Yadav.
The second surprise was the exclusion of Ajinkya Rahane, who has been India’s best batsman away from home in the last 3-4 years. There was a lot of talk about his current form (he scored only 17 runs in his last 5 innings), but he has been one of India’s most reliable batsmen outside Asia. The fact that he averages 53.44 away from home justifies that he loves the challenge of playing overseas. His exclusion was a bizarre one and the skipper and the team management received a lot of flak for this decision.
The third one was the least surprising one. India went in with Shikhar Dhawan ahead of KL Rahul (who scored 7 successive fifties in 2017) as the second opener. Dhawan has been in decent touch, but he has struggled to perform overseas. Also, he has struggled against the moving ball in the past. Hence, on a green pitch, the ball was going to deviate from the surface and Rahul is more suited to play the moving ball.