Aakash Chopra comments on the INDvSA Test series taking place behind closed doors
By SMCS - Dec 22, 2021 11:45 am
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Former India player turned veteran commentator Aakash Chopra feels that it is unfortunate that the upcoming India-South Africa series will take place behind closed doors. While the series came under the scanner due to the new Omicron COVID-19 variant, both the boards decided to go ahead with the series as well.

Team India
Team India

In a video shared on his YouTube channel, Aakash Chopra said: “There will be no spectators at the ground, it means another series will be held in empty grounds. This is slightly unfortunate because things are changing, the Covid situation is changing and the story has changed because of Omicron. The series was postponed by a week, the T20s have been removed but the danger was still lurking that it should not happen that the entire series is cancelled. We have seen a lot of such series getting cancelled.”

Aakash Chopra also claimed that the new variant of the virus has already taken a toll on South Africa’s domestic cricket. Even the Netherlands cricket team’s tour of South Africa didn’t happen after the first ODI due to COVID-related concerns as well. Even, the Pakistan-West Indies ODI series was also postponed after a few players and officials got affected in the Caribbean camp.

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He explained: “In fact their own T20 league – Mzansi Super League – that also has been canceled. All the events there have ended, their local domestic cricket has ended. The India A tour was completed somehow and this has been kept because it is in a bio-secure bubble. I feel it is the right move because what we saw in England, you called all the spectators and then cases increased and it came in the team as well. But does the absence of the crowd make a difference – of course, it makes a difference.”

south africa
South African team

The veteran commentator also added that the absence of the crowd will take away some of the home advantages from the South Africa team as well.

Aakash Chopra elaborated: “Home advantage is first the pitch and the second big advantage is the crowd as they are always behind you. They will always root for you and suddenly they become your 12th man. If you remove them from there, you get the feel of a neutral venue. The pitch, of course, will suit the South African team more but the truth is that if the crowd is not there, the pressure gets slightly reduced.”

Meanwhile, the host got a massive blow as Anrich Nortje has been ruled out of the series due to a hip injury. The three-match Test series will begin in Centurion on December 26. And, Aakash Chopra believes that the hosts will be severely disadvantaged with his absence.

“With Anrich Nortje not being there, it seems South Africa have been dealt such a huge blow that it will take time to recover from it. It is not they don’t have other fast bowlers, actually they have so many that they have not asked for a replacement,” he continued.

“They are sticking with who they have. Let us see who all are left – Kagiso Rabada – he is the life of this team’s bowling, after that they have Beuran Hendricks, Lungi Ngidi, Glenton Stuurman, Sisanda Magala, Duanne Olivier, Wiaan Mulder and Marco Jansen,” he shared.

While the Dean Elgar-led side will certainly miss the services of Nortje, Aakash Chopra stated that none of the bowlers can make up for the absence of Anrich Nortje in the team. Even, the veteran also believes Nortje would have been a bigger threat than Kagiso Rabada for the visitors as well. Moreover, he feels Nortje’s absence will be an advantage for India as well.

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He explained: “You can say they have a lot but I see a lot of quantity but not that much quality. The quality Anrich Nortje has, South Africa will come at par if they play two fast bowlers, else along with Rabada and Ngidi whichever one you play, they will remain below only. Anrich Nortje’s current form and the way he was bowling – in my opinion, he was bowling even better than Rabada at the moment. Between the two of them, I was feeling more danger from Anrich Nortje than Rabada.”

“The pace and accuracy we have seen from Nortje for the last little while – in the last six to eight months, he is the most improved fast bowler in the world. In such a scenario, if he is not there on the South African pitches, the scales get tilted slightly towards the Indian team,” Aakash Chopra concluded.