The tour to South Africa is done, and as expected Team India have come out second best in the Test series. However, they didn’t surrender meekly. The first Test in Jo’burg was one that India will feel they should have won, and they surrendered the advantage in Durban after having a fantastic start through Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara on Day 1.
Although South Africa played better than India, as a team, the Indians will feel let-down by a few of their players through the course of the two-match series. Here are 5 of them, whose places could be under the scanner when the selectors meet to pick the team for the tour to New Zealand.
Scores of 13, 15, 29 and 19 are no good for an opener in any form of cricket, let alone the highest level. Shikhar Dhawan, after a promising start to his career, came unstuck in a foreign land, and couldn’t come to terms with the conditions. It was essential that Dhawan combined with Murali Vijay, who was solid in this series, to give India a worry-free start, but in all 4 innings, Dhawan played a few deliveries, and then played a poor stroke to throw it away. Dhawan needs to learn to respect the good deliveries, for you will get a lot of them in Test cricket. As his opening partner Vijay showed, when the good ones are respected, the bad ones will automatically come and they can be put away. With Gautam Gambhir being reasonably consistent in the Ranji Trophy this season, the think-tank might well think long and hard about Dhawan’s place in the side.
2. Zaheer Khan
Much was expected out of Zaheer Khan in this Test series, but it is only fair to say that he did not live up to those expectations. Although he picked 4 wickets in the first innings at Jo’burg, he fell flat after that. When India were pushing for wickets on the final day, he was largely nonthreatening, and in Durban, he was poor, to say the very least. The likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav are waiting in the wings, and might well press for their opportunity.
3. Ishant Sharma
As with Zaheer, Ishant was fantastic in the first innings at Jo’burg, but faded away rapidly after that. This series followed the line of pretty much how Ishant’s career has gone so far. Beginning with promise, but flattering to deceive after that. In Durban, when Ravindra Jadeja was keeping one end tight, Ishant was guilty of not applying enough pressure at the other end, and not bowling enough wicket-taking deliveries.
4. Rohit Sharma
Although this was Rohit’s first Test tour abroad, he has been to South Africa before, and his failure to adjust to conditions has been baffling. Far too often, Rohit has pushed and prodded uncertainly, and has paid the price for that. Rohit was guilty of making the mistakes he has made throughout his career, not playing with any conviction, and that reflected in the number of runs that he eventually got. With Ambati Rayudu in the squad already, and guys like B. Aparajith, Sanju Samson, etc. staking a claim through strong Ranji Trophy performances, Rohit better pull his socks up.
Ashwin’s poor overseas run continued with another average showing with the ball at Jo’burg. Although he managed to keep the scoring down, he managed no contribution to the wickets, and that was a huge hindrance for India in pushing for a victory in the first Test match. As brilliant as he has been on home conditions, Ashwin must fund a way to perform overseas. If he does, then that coupled with his batting is an asset for India.