The contrasting expressions of the two coaches at the tea break on the 4th day of the first Test in Cape Town perfectly summed up the match beautifully. Even as South Africa coach Ottis Gibson cheered the boys back into the hut after Kagiso Rabada dismissed Wriddhiman Saha off the last ball before tea, India chief coach Ravi Shastri stood with his hands on his hips, as if wondering what could have been had his much-fancied batsmen shown a little more application with the Test match victory knocking on their doors. Cricketnext takes a look at each and every players performance.
1. Shikhar Dhawan: Rating 1: Verdict: Very Poor
Shikhar Dhawan’s selection in the team raised many eyebrows and his performance showed why. Horrendous with the bat and poor in the field, Dhawan had an absolute shocker of a match. He was dismissed for 16 in both the innings, struggling against the short ball, which has been his weakness in foreign conditions. He also dropped Keshav Maharaj on 0 in the first innings, Maharaj went onto score a crucial 35 for the team. If Dhawan plays in the next match, he will have to perform or questions about his place in the team will continue to grow.
2. Murali Vijay: Rating 2: Verdict: Poor
Murali Vijay has been one of India’s better performers in overseas conditions and the reason for that has been his ability to leave the ball. However, in a rather surprising change of tactics, Vijay played and missed a lot of balls and never really looked settled in the crease. His trigger movement of going across the off stump didn’t help either as he was caught behind the stumps in both the innings at low scores of 1 and 13. If India are to win a Test match, then the performance of the openers will be key and Vijay will certainly have to up his game.
3. Cheteshwar Pujara: Rating 5: Verdict: Average
Another batsman who had a lot of hopes riding in on him, Pujara was looking good in the first innings but a loss of concentration after lunch – something which you don’t usually associate with him – led to his downfall as he poked at one outside the off stump. Something he admitted that he could have left well alone. In the second innings, Morkel produced an unplayable delivery, something which would have gotten the better off any batsman. Pujara ended with scores of 26 and 4 in the two innings.
4. Virat Kohli: Rating 4: Verdict: Average
Déjà-vu. Virat Kohli must have had that feeling, when yet again a delivery bowled well outside the off stump led to his downfall in the first innings. He was dismissed for 5, Kohli tried to learn from his mistake but it was something which was playing in his mind and Philander used it beautifully to set him up and get him with the ball coming in. Kohli, who is often credited for being one step ahead of the game was this time left wanting. He was looking solid in the second innings and his 28 seemed to give some sort of hope to India. Once he was dismissed, it went all downhill for the team.
5. Rohit Sharma: Rating 2: Verdict: Poor
Coming into the series with a bagful of runs, Rohit was high on confidence but the mighty South African bowling attack was always going to provide a stiffer challenge as compared to Sri Lanka. Replacing Rahane in the team, Rohit needed a really good performance but he was a major let down. In the first innings, Rohit did all the hard work, playing out the tough part but again threw it away as Rabada got the better off him with pace. The less said about his dismissal in the second innings, the better it is, as it was an awful shot, playing away from the body and chopping the ball onto his stumps. Rohit will be lucky to retain his place in the team in Centurion.
6. Ravichandran Ashwin: Rating 6: Verdict: Average
Ashwin bowled a total of 8 overs in the game, managing to pick up two wickets but his effort with the bat in the second innings was commendable. He waged a lone battle, scoring 37 runs to keep India alive in the game. Though playing as the no.6 batsman in the team, Shastri and co would be expecting a lot more from the Tamil Nadu spinner, especially in the batting department. He scored only 12 in the first innings and it will be interesting to see the kind of role he plays for the team going ahead.
7. Hardik Pandya: Rating 9: Verdict: Excellent
The only time India seemed to be on top in the game was when Hardik Pandya was involved in the game. His counter-attacking innings of 93 gave India some hope and was the only respectable contribution in the first innings. He was good with the ball as well, picking up three wickets in the match and using the conditions to his advantage to trouble the batsmen. Pandya provides a X-factor to the team and his performances going ahead will be crucial if India is to fight back in the series.
8. Wriddhiman Saha: Rating 6: Verdict: Average
All the rating points Saha gets in the match is for his work behind the stumps as he was safe as houses, breaking Dhoni’s record of catches taken by a wicket-keeper. Saha took 10 catches but his effort with the bat was equally poor. He didn’t look comfortable even for a moment at the crease. He will have to improve his performance with the bat or Parthiv Patel might well get a look into the team at his cost.
9. Bhuvneshwar Kumar: Rating 9: Verdict: Excellent
Bhuvneshwar had a great game with both the bat and the ball. He had South Africa in all sorts of trouble on Day 1 after he quickly picked up three wickets and reduced them to 12-3. He ended up with six wickets in the game and looked more solid than the batsmen with the bat. In fact, he faced the most amount of deliveries in the match, facing a total of 127 deliveries in both the innings. He played a key supporting role to Pandya in the first innings and was an able partner for Ashwin in the second. He will need to continue this form with the bat as it looks likely that his services will be required by the team in the remainder of the series.
10. Mohammad Shami: Rating 7: Verdict: Good
Shami was more than a handful, especially in the second innings and was one of the key reasons why India were able to make a contest out of this match after the 1st innings. He ended with figures of 3/28 in the second innings and got the ball to move off the pitch. But he could have performed better in the 1st innings, especially with the new ball, when the conditions were the most favourable for the bowlers.
11. Jasprit Bumrah: Rating 7: Verdict: Good
Test matches always prove to be a big learning curve for any bowler and Bumrah certainly learnt after his showing in the first innings. He picked up 1/73 in the 1st innings but in the second innings he was more effective as he got the ball to move away from the bat. He bowled an absolute beauty to get rid of Du Plessis, and also accounted for de Villiers and de Kock as he ended with figures of 3/39 in the second innings. He will certainly get better as he plays more Test cricket going ahead.