Bengaluru: It was unbelievably laughable. The only time the sun shone during the four days of non-action in the second Test was about an hour after the players had left the M. Chinnaswamy stadium, for good. After the first day’s play on Saturday which had long faded into memory, four full days were abandoned before the sun broke through, mockingly on Wednesday afternoon. Fortunately, it was just an aberration as a drizzle set in soon after.
With two Tests gone and two to go, the teams are as ill-prepared as they were at the beginning of the series. If the first Test in Mohali ended in three days, this was a no-brainer. Going into the Nagpur game beginning next Wednesday, the Indian batsmen, with the exception of Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara, are yet to get a decent hit in the middle. Having managed just 201 and 200 in their two innings, yet winning by a huge margin of 108 runs dismissing South Africa for 184 and 109, courtesy their spin twins — R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja — the batsmen must be in a bit of bother.
Skipper Virat Kohli, looking understandably down, only owing to the poor weather, however, felt that the batsmen were in a ‘good space’. “Everyone is in a good space. You don’t need to put a certain number of score in front of your name to make sure you make an impact. Someone scoring 30 runs also. You take (Ravindra) Jadeja’s knock of 38 (in Mohali). Nobody talks about it but it was as important as (Cheteshwar) Pujara’s and (Murali) Vijay’s runs in the course of the Test match, seeing the first innings and how it went,” said Kohli as he goes into the third Test with a 1-0 lead.
With the bowlers hogging the limelight — Ashwin and Jadeja have grabbed 12 wickets each in the short series thus far — the Indian captain felt that small contributions from the batsmen has slipped below the radar.
“(Wriddhiman) Saha’s 25-odd runs in the second innings (at Mohali) was as crucial as that of Pujara and Vijay early on because that gives you a competitive target. This team is not worried about personal performance or putting numbers in front of names. We just want to go out there and win a Test. We need to find the right balance between batting and bowling. You certainly need that for a team and that’s what we did in Mohali. Day One here was a balance of both.”
Given the manner in which the Proteas have capitulated against the Indian spinners in the three innings so far, Nagpur, the home of the BCCI chief, Shashank Manohar, known for its sporting wickets, may yet spin out a turner. But with absolutely no touch for the batsmen here, fears of India losing the momentum will be the primary focus. Kohli, however, brushed it off. “The momentum, I don’t see any change in that, the mood is absolutely the same we had in Mohali in the team. We had a really positive day one (here), bowled the No. 1 side in under three sessions, bowled them out on a decent batting wicket, there were no demons in the wicket I can say for sure and we batted pretty well of whatever time we had in the middle. It is always annoying for any side, even if you have the momentum or don’t have the momentum, to come to the ground and have no play.”
As his wont, Kohli batted for result-oriented wickets for the remaining two Tests, immaterial of whether the fourth would be in Delhi or Pune. “To keep this format as exciting you need to have wickets that give results, so that will be the basic idea of the administrators I am sure because every ground wants to have an exciting game, wants to have a result so I think that’s ultimately the main goal of hosting a Test.” Hope the sun shines for remainder of the series.
Download the all new Deccan Chronicle app for Android and iOS to stay up-to-date with latest headlines and news stories in politics, entertainment, sports, technology, business and much more from India and around the world.