South Africa v India – 3rd Test Day 1
Former cricketer Nikhil Chopra believes it is important for the Indian openers to play out the new ball in South African conditions. He pointed out that once the new ball gets older on those pitches, it becomes easier for middle-order batters to score runs.
The former India spinner made these remarks while speaking on YouTube channel Khelneeti. He reckoned that KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal’s early dismissals on the opening day of the third Test match made things difficult for the rest of the batters.
Chopra stated that while Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli steadied the ship with their 62-run partnership, the other batters failed to come up with valuable contributions. As a result, India were bundled out for a below-par score of 223 in the first innings.
Nikhil Chopra said:
“We saw that there was a good opening partnership between KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal in the first game. That was a great chance for the middle-order to fire. It always becomes easier for the middle-order to play once the new-ball gets a bit older in South Africa. We saw in this game that when the openers don’t perform, there is a little struggle.”
Chopra opined that Indian batters have not adapted well to the conditions, and hence have had to deal with repeated failures. He highlighted how the South African batters, on the other hand, played with an off-stump guard.
“The South African batters took an off-stump guard during their batting. They are aware that it is a bouncy track and there’s no risk of LBW even if you miss the ball. It is also easy to leave the ball as there is a better understanding of the 4th stump. The Indian batters haven’t been able to adapt, which is why they have been short of runs,” added Chopra.
Skipper Virat Kohli was the top-scorer for the visitors in their first innings. The right-hander has received appreciation from all corners for his gutsy 79-run knock. While Cheteshwar Pujara contributed with 43 crucial runs, the other batters failed to make any substantial impact.
“Mayank Agarwal had a golden chance to cement his place as an opener in Rohit Sharma’s absence” – Nikhil Chopra
The cricketer-turned-commentator feels that Mayank Agarwal has missed out on a golden opportunity by not being consistent in the ongoing series. With Rohit Sharma injured, Agarwal had the opportunity to cement his place as an opener in the side.
Chopra added that the Indian think tank could have also tried him at the number three spot once Rohit Sharma returns as he has the ability to counter the new ball. While Agarwal started the tour with a half-century, he hasn’t been able to convert his starts in subsequent innings.
“Mayank Agarwal had a golden chance to cement his place as an opener in Rohit Sharma’s absence. He scored runs against New Zealand and was also impressive in the first game. If had continued to score runs consistently, then the team management could also have considered him for the Number 3 spot,” stated Chopra.
South Africa currently trail the Men in Blue’s total by 206 runs. Jasprit Bumrah provided the touring party with a crucial breakthrough by dismissing South Africa captain Dean Elgar for just 3 runs before stumps on Day 1.